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29/7/11

14:26

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Disproportionate extradition of Sheff
problem is that the extradition treaty does not contain a provision known as forum allowing courts to decide whether a case is best heard in the UK or abroad. And because the internet has made it much easier for crime to be committed across borders at a rapid pace the law has failed to adapt. The law just doesnt cater for this situation, Knowles said. The Americans will go after people who have committed crimes abroad with very little linkage to the US. And the English courts are powerless to say: Well, actually, the crime has been committed here in the UK. Its the absence of that power that I think is the problem. What the McKinnon and ODwyer cases have indicated is that there can be real injustice in sending people back to the US to face very savage sentences nothing like the sentence that

LOCAL FEATURE

Not often do US officials pay visits to students in Sheffield. But after building a website that allegedly shared links to pirated TV shows and movies, 23-year-old Richard ODwyer became a wanted man. Accused of criminal copyright infringement, the Sheffield Hallam University undergraduate finds himself at the centre of an extraordinary story. US authorities are attempting to extradite him so that he can be tried and imprisoned in America. The threat of extradition came as a shock to the ODwyer family. Richards mother, Julia, has since been forced to take sick leave because of stress and now spends her days trawling the internet to research the law.

2004, 28 British nationals have been extradited to the US, made possible by a treaty signed in 2003. Introduced to speed up the extradition of terrorist suspects, the treaty was negotiated between the Blair and Bush administrations after 9/11. It allows the US to request extradition of UK citizens without evidence and on the basis of reasonable suspicion alone.

Disproportionate
Using the powers of the treaty to go after people for breaching copyright and other crimes not associated with terrorism, the ODwyer family believe, is an abuse of its purpose. By allowing American authorities to seek extraditions on such grounds, they claim that the UK government is failing to protect its citizens and that the treaty is imbalanced in Americas favour. If Richard has committed any crime, it was committed on UK soil, and we have sufficient copyright legislation here so that he can be prosecuted in the UK, said a family spokesperson. To extradite a young man in the

Without evidence
The thought of having my only son taken thousands of miles away to face an unknown legal system without being able to monitor what is happening or advocate for him fills me with terror, she said recently. Though ODwyers case is unusual, it is not isolated. Since
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middle of his studies is wholly disproportionate. Since the Extradition Act came into force in 2004, the US has agreed to the extradition to the UK of only three people with a claim to US nationality. So presumably the US would understand if Britain were equally as protective of its own in preferring to try British defendants in the UK. Just because an extradition request is made, doesnt mean that the authorities have to agree to it. In the seven years since the treaty came into force, the internet has hugely expanded and with it hacking, piracy and other cyber-crimes. Scottish computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who suffers from Aspergers syndrome, has been fighting extradition to the US since 2003. He admits hacking in to US government computer systems to find information about UFOs, but wants a UK trial. If extradited, he could face a prison sentence of up to 70 years. According to one of the UKs leading experts on extradition law, Julian Knowles QC, the

Right-wing terro
More rightwing terrorist plots have been prosecuted in the North East than in other areas of the UK, a spokeswoman for the polices North East regional counter-terrorism unit has told The Big Issue in the North. Data released by the Leedsbased unit reveal that five men with far-right links have been convicted on terror charges between 2007 and 2010 in investigations led by its officers. One, Martyn Gilleard, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2008 after police found explosive devices and ammunition at his home in Goole, together with a manifesto declaring that the time had come to blow up mosques. Also that year, Nathan Worrell of Grimsby was sentenced to six years in prison after police

THE BIG ISSUE IN THE NORTH 1-7 AUGUST 2011