TVShack Creator Richard O’Dwyer Avoids Extradition To US

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Student will go to the US to sign a final agreement and avoid prison

After months of campaigning and legal battles, Richard O’Dwyer, the student who created TVShack, will not be extradited to the US.

O’Dwyer has agreed to a “deferred prosecution”, which will require him to pay a small sum in compensation, according to reports. It also means he will travel to the US to officially sign off the deal, the High Court heard, when he will promise not to break copyright laws again.

He faced charges of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and criminal infringement of copyright in the US. TVShack hosted links to films and TV programmes, potentially breaking the law.

TVShack fight over?

After a judge ruled in January that O’Dwyer could be extradited, and home secretary Theresa May approved the deal, it appeared he was to be sent over to the US, where he faced a maximum of five years in prison.

It was thought this week’s hearings were around moving the appeal date, but it now seems O’Dwyer’s troubles are coming to an end. He had been backed by various big names in the media, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Julia O’Dwyer (pictured), Richard’s mother, said she was pleased at the news but declined to give any detail to TechWeekEurope on the deal struck with US authorities, as the lawyers still need to iron out the final details. She had not even managed to speak with her son who was in classes at the Sheffield Hallam University.

“I sent him a couple of emails but he hasn’t replied,” O’Dwyer said.  “I was at work and people were ringing me about it and I didn’t know what had happened… obviously we’re pleased… it’s a relief”

This is the second time in two months that a major extradition case has seen the accused remain in the UK. The home secretary decided last month that British hacker Gary McKinnon would not stand trial in the US over the alleged hacking of military networks.

Yet the decision around O’Dwyer has not convinced some onlookers of any change in the attitude of the British government, which has been criticised for pandering too much to America.

“It’s great that the extradition request will be dropped. But we must remember that without this deal, he was due to be sent to the USA for an alleged crime apparently committed in the UK,” added Jim Killock, executive director at the Open Rights Group.

“Is the UK government happy for the US to assume jurisdiction over every UK Internet user? The government would do well to take a long hard look at its extradition arrangements with the USA.”

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