A judicial review of the extradition arrangements between the United States and United Kingdom has concluded that the procedures are not biased in favor of the United States. The announcement is not only bad news for alleged Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon but also for Richard O’Dywer, the former operator of the TVShack linking website. He is now pinning his hopes on a November court hearing.
A review led by former Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker has declared that the extradition treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom “does not operate in an unbalanced manner.”
The review, which was launched in September 2010 following the 2003 treaty, examined whether it was easier to extradite people from Britain to the United States than vice versa. It declared that “the widespread perception that they operate in an imbalanced manner is not justified.”
Furthermore, the review rejected calls for the creation of legislation that would permit British targets of extradition to the United States be tried in the UK if their alleged crimes were committed there.
The news comes as a blow to alleged Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon who allegedly used his computer in the UK to break US laws. Gary’s mother, Janis Sharp, who has campaigned tirelessly on her son’s behalf, dismissed the review as a “whitewash”.
Her anxiety is shared by Julia O’Dwyer, the mother of Richard O’Dwyer, the alleged former operator of the TVShack website. In common with Gary McKinnon, Richard is also the subject of proceedings to extradite him to the United States, despite having committed no crimes there.
Speaking with TorrentFreak today, Julia described Gary’s mother Janis as “a fantastic source of support” and said she shared her disappointment at the review which showed “scant regard for the views of so many individuals and organizations that bothered to submit their evidence during the consultation process.”
“We are trying to pressure the government to ignore the review,” she told us, a stance also being taken by human rights group Liberty.
“We don’t just disagree with this review but are completely baffled by it. This is not a Court Judgment merely policy advice and Government cannot abdicate its responsibility to honour the promises of both Coalition parties in opposition,” said Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti.
Following the disappointing review, Richard – whose alleged activities while running the TVShack website have already been described by the UK’s Director of Public Prosecutions as “not serious” – is pinning his hopes on an upcoming court hearing.
In early November, Richard’s barrister will argue that in the United Kingdom the act of linking to copyright material online is not a crime. The argument is not without merit. In 2010, linking website TV-Links was deemed to be a ‘mere conduit’ of information and its admins were acquitted.
Richard’s mother is hoping for a great outcome from the hearing, but is fully prepared to fight on.
“If we win – no extradition!” she told us. “If not we will have to go to High Court.”