A 23-year-old British college student who operated a popular website that linked to other sites that offered pirated videos is to be extradited to the U.S. where he faces a possible 10-year prison sentence for copyright violations. On Friday a British judge rejected Richard O'Dwyer's defense that he broke no British law (so-called linksites are not barred in the U.K.), that his site did not host any infringing material itself, and that it was unlikely that he would receive a fair trial in the United States. O'Dwyer has said that he used revenue from the site, called TVShack.com, to pay for his college education. The U.S. claims that he earned $230,000 over three years from advertising sold on the site. Despite extradition pacts between the U.S. and other countries, it is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for a foreign court to sanction extradition of one of its own citizens to the U.S. for committing an act that is not regarded as illegal domestically. (Indeed, Mexican courts have refused to extradite fugitives alleged to have committed murder in the U.S. because murder is not a capital offense in Mexico.) Following Friday's verdict, O'Dwyer's mother Julia said that he plans an appeal and criticized Britain's extradition treaty with the U.S., which, she said, "has opened the floodgates to America to come and seize British citizens without even having set foot outside of this country."
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