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UK Home Secretary approves TVShack's O'Dwyer extradition

Website bod faces five in the slammer

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Blighty's Home Secretary Theresa May has approved the extradition of Richard O'Dwyer to the US on charges of copyright infringement stemming from his TVShack website.

According to his mother Julia, O'Dwyer's extradition was signed off by May on Tuesday as the Prime Minister David Cameron flew into the US for talks with President Obama. US prosecutors want 23-year-old O'Dwyer to face five years in federal prison for running TVShack, which featured links to pirated television programmes that could be watched or downloaded.

"Today, yet another British citizen is being sold down the river by the British Government. Richard's life - his studies, work opportunities, financial security - is being disrupted, for who knows how long, because the UK government has not introduced the much needed changes to the extradition law," Julie O'Dwyer told Wales Online.

A Home Office spokesman told BBC News that May had "carefully considered all relevant matters" before signing the order.

As a computer science student at Sheffield Hallam University, O’Dwyer set up the TVShack website in 2007. The US government alleges he made over $230,000 from advertising revenues given the site's popularity. When the original site was shut down he set up a mirror, with an NWA graphic and the slogan “F*ck the Police”.

O'Dwyer is being shipped off under the 2003 Extradition Act, which was rushed through by Tony Blair's administration and billed as an essential tool in the fight against terrorism. The law has been heavily criticised since the US only has to show evidence of “reasonable suspicion", while UK requests have to come with proof, and because they have been used against a range of suspects - from software executives and techies like Gary McKinnon to the "NatWest Three".

"The US is coming for the young (Richard), the old (Chris Tappin) and the ill (Gary McKinnon) and our government is paving the way," O'Dwyer's mum added. "By rights, it should make for an interesting conversation between the Obamas and Camerons aboard Air Force One - but I'm not holding my breath."

In a recent Google+ hangout with President Obama, the fate of O'Dwyer was the most requested question by punters, but the president washed his hands of the case, saying it was up to the US Department of Justice to call the shots. ®

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