Theresa May is facing serious pressure from the Liberal Democrats to terminate an extradition treaty with the USA which allows Bristish citizens to be tried under USA Laws for actions that whilst criminal in the USA are not even crimes in the UK.
The latest abuse of this treaty, which was supposedly intended to fight terrorists, is 23 year old Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer who founded a website, tvshack.net, in 2007, which acted as a search engine for people to find out where they could watch and in some cases download popular TV shows, typically programmes not yet available outside America.
The site did not directly store, offer, or copy any of the programmes it listed, but rather linked to other sites which had done so, in a similar manner to how Google and other search engines display results.
Whilst US authorities allege that O’Dwyer made around £147,000 from advertising displayed on the site during its three-year life, his defence lawyers contend that linking to other content is not illegal under UK law, and point out that the CPS did not pursue charges against him.
This website is not illegal in UK law as it does not provide the downloads, it merely directs you to them, and yet this British citizen is to be deported to the USA charged with activity which is criminal in the USA having never set foot in that country, where he faces 10 years in high-security prison.
Liberal Democrat Party President, Tim Farron, has called on Theresa May to review her decision to approve the “ludicrous” extradition. His call is receiving support from both sides of the coalition with Conservative backbenchers concerned that extraditions such as O’Dwyer’s serve as “a thorn in the side of the special relationship”.
Farron said: “While it’s important to protect artists and copyright there is a question about just who is responsible for any breach [in this case] anyway.
“It is ludicrous and the government needs to take a very strong stand on protecting civil liberties.”
Farron pointed to the contrast between the Abu Qatada case, where someone with a clear case to answer could not be extradited for years: “Whereas here somebody who doesn’t have a case to answer is whisked through quickly.”
If what Richard O’Dwyer has done were made illegal in the UK then the founders of search engines such as Yahoo!, Google and indeed the founders of Facebook and Twitter would be breaking the law. How would the citizens of the USA feel if we started to demand their extradition?