Student strikes deal to avoid extradition

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The Independent Online

A British university student has avoided extradition to America over allegations of internet piracy after signing an agreement to pay compensation and avoid trial.

Richard O'Dwyer was wanted in the US after being accused of using his website TVShack to infringe copyright, allegedly making thousands of pounds, linking to programmes and films online for free before it was shut down by US authorities in 2010.

His extradition was authorised by the Home Secretary Theresa May and his case was one of a number highlighted by opponents of the transatlantic extradition treaty. But a High Court judge heard that Mr O'Dwyer, pictured, signed a "deferred prosecution agreement" with US prosecutors, requiring him to travel to America and hand over compensation to avoid criminal charges.

Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division, said: "It is a very satisfactory outcome… It would be very nice for everyone if this was resolved happily before Christmas."

He is expected to travel to America in two weeks' time and his extradition application will return to the High Court in 15 days' time so it can formally be disposed of. Mr O'Dwyer's mother Julia described her "utter relief" at the "fantastic news" of the deal.

She said: "I'm still catching up – the phone keeps ringing. I burst into tears when I read the judge's comments… It's not a good time to be going to America, is it, on the run-up to Christmas?" she told the Huffington Post.

Isabella Sankey, Liberty's director of policy, said: "This will be a huge relief for Richard – but how appalling that he had to wait so long for the US authorities to make this decision."

Campaign group Liberty said: "Our extradition arrangements must be overhauled to allow people who have never left these shores to be dealt with here at home."