Richard O’Dwyer extradition opposed by vast majority in UK

Pressure on Theresa May increased by finding that only 9% of British public want website founder to face trial in US

The UK public overwhelmingly oppose the extradition of Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer to the US on copyright charges, according to the results of a poll by YouGov.

O’Dwyer, 24, faces up to 10 years in jail in America for charges relating to a website he founded linking to places to watch full TV shows and films online. UK authorities have pursued no charges against him.

Only 9% of the British public believe he should face trial in the US for his actions, according to the YouGov research. The largest group, 46%, said O’Dwyer should not be prosecuted at all, while 26% felt he should be tried in the UK.

The poll adds to the mounting pressure on Theresa May, the home secretary, to take action on the O’Dwyer case, especially as only 10% of Conservative voters support extradition.

May, who has the statutory power to halt O’Dwyer’s extradition, has been the subject of a campaign led by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to stop the extradition. Of Tory voters, 45% thought O’Dwyer should face no legal action, while 33% thought he should be tried in the UK.

A petition to the Home Office , started by Wales, has gathered more than 215,000 signatures in less than two weeks.

Wales urged May to stop ignoring the public will on the O’Dwyer case, and to agree to meet him and O’Dwyer’s mother.

“The home secretary continues to ignore hundreds of thousands of citizens, the UK tech community, business leaders, celebrities and MPs from all parties on this issue,” he said.

“She should be very clear that we are not going to go away and new supporters are joining the campaign all the time. I urge her to meet with myself and Richard’s mother, Julia, as soon as possible.”

Julia O’Dwyer said she felt the government had so far failed her and her son, and urged May to respond to her son’s campaign.

“I can’t believe that Theresa May has not had the good grace to respond to this campaign so far. I had hoped that as an elected representative in a country that holds values of freedom so dear, she would have made some sort of response.

“I could lose my son for 10 years to a US prison for something that isn’t even a crime in the UK. I have been a taxpayer for my whole working life and now, when I need our government the most, they have totally failed me.”

O’Dwyer is currently on bail in the UK pending a legal appeal against his extradition, to be heard later this year.


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