The founder of Wikipedia shows his support for a Sheffield student

Richard O'Dwyer
Richard O'Dwyer Photo: Calendar

The founder of internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia has thrown his support behind a campaign seeking to block the extradition of a student based in Sheffield to the US on copyright charges.

Jimmy Wales, 45, supported Richard O'Dwyer, 24, who faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of charges relating to his website, TVShack.net, which linked to other sites that streamed pirated television programmes.

Mr O'Dwyer's supporters argue that as the site did not host material itself he should not face any charges and should therefore not be extradited. Mr Wales, in a petition on the Change.org website, said TV Shack was "similar to a search engine".

Mr Wales, who has met Mr O'Dwyer, called on Home Secretary Theresa May to stop the extradition, which was approved by a district judge in January, calling the interactive media and animation student "the human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public".

"O'Dwyer is not a US citizen, he's lived in the UK all his life, his site was not hosted there, and most of his users were not from the US," he wrote.

"America is trying to prosecute a UK 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."