Richard O'Dwyer is a 24-year-old U.K. citizen entangled in a two-year extradition saga with the U.S., which wants him to face copyright charges issued in 2010. Over the weekend, founder (pictured above) got directly involved in O'Dwyer's situation by launching an online petition to stop his extradition.
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, which encourages signers to tweet with the hashtag "#SaveRichard," has received more than 54,000 signatures in two days. It's hosted on Change.org and is directed at the U.K.'s Home Office.
44,000 signatures so far - please let's get to 50,000 by tonight - rt and share please!...
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— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales)
"O'Dwyer is not a U.S. citizen, he's lived in the U.K. all his life, his site was not hosted there, and most of his users were not from the U.S.," wrote Wales on the petition page.
"America is trying to prosecute a U.K. citizen for an alleged crime which took place on UK soil. The internet as a whole must not tolerate censorship in response to mere allegations of copyright infringement. As citizens we must stand up for our rights online."
Wales' petition goes on to cast O'Dwyer as the international poster boy for the ongoing struggle between copyright holders and content consumers. Previously, that face-off has only taken abstract legislative form in bills such as the Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as .
"Richard O'Dwyer is the human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public," writes Wales.
"Earlier this year, in the fight against the anti-copyright bills SOPA and PIPA, the public won its first big victory. This could be our second. Copyright is an important institution, serving a beneficial moral and economic purpose. But that does not mean that copyright can or should be unlimited."
O'Dwyer is the founder of TVShack.net, which allowed users to search for links to online streams of television broadcasts from around the world from 2007 to 2010. A court in New York charged O'Dwyer with a pair of copyright charges in 2010, which combined could put him behind bars for up to ten years. The TVShack.net domain was seized by American law enforcement. O'Dwyer re-registered the site at TVShack.cc, which he shut down for good after a visit from police in late 2010.
The U.S. Department of Justice has been after the U.K. to extradite O'Dwyer since May of 2011 to face charges in U.S. court. The extradition was ordered by a U.K. judge in January and approved in March of this year, but O'Dwyer is appealing the decision.
O'Dwyer's legal team has maintained that the U.S. lacks jurisdiction in the case because none of TVShack.net's servers were hosted in the United States.
Could the petition cause the U.K. government to put a stop to O'Dywer's extradition? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Image courtesy of Flickr, via
This story originally published on Mashable .