US fails to extradite O’Dwyer as Internet freedom puts one in the win column

richard o dwyerThe notion that the USA’s laws extend beyond its own borders took a kick in the nuts on Thursday as a New York court took just five minutes to quash an extradition request taken against on British student Richard O’Dwyer. The brief hearing in lower Manhattan saw O’Dwyer speak only to confirm his name and that he understood a three-page agreement drawn up by his legal team and US prosecutors last week. The terms of the agreement saw O’Dwyer ordered to pay the equivalent of $20k for profits earned by TVShack when it was up running – the money going to “repay victims whose copyrights were infringed by TVShack”. O’Dwyer also agreed that he won’t break any laws and will remain in contact with a US correctional officer for the next six months.

Outside the courthouse, O’Dwyer said he was “happy it’s finally over with” and added that he “never committed any crime”. He also criticized the British government for letting the case get this far and the whole case now raises the issue as to whether the extradition treaty between he two countries will be rethought.

The agreement was signed back in 2003 when Tony Blair and George Bush were firmly installed as the Number One Bum Chums of world politics. It was heavily weighted in the US’s favor with the UK having to hand over evidence before an extradition took place whereas the US needed to just prove “reasonable suspicion” of a crime.

O’Dwyer never having done business on US soil didn’t matter much to the US at the time and if he had been extradited it would have set a dangerous precedent for future cases. iGaming industry legal expert Peter Wilson even speculated earlier on this year that it could be something that affiliates should look out for in the future.

Whether or not the petition by Jimmy Wales or fierce public pressure made any difference only the US courts will know. One man that will be laughing on the other side of the world is MegaUpload owner Kim Dotcom. The fate of O’Dwyer has always been linked to that of Dotcom and O’Dwyer being acquitted could signal that a similar olive branch will be offered to Dotcom. Even further than Dotcom, the case going in favor of O’Dwyer could mean that any attempts by the US to introduce wide-ranging controls on internet freedom will be less likely for a little while longer.