Jimmy Wales, founder of online crowd-soured encyclopaedia Wikipedia, has called for a meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May following the extradition of a British student to the US on the grounds that he facilitated piracy.
Richard O’Dwyer faces ten years in prison for setting up the TVShack.net website, which offered online links to sites hosting movies and TV shows. This is not a crime in the UK, but is in the US, leading to the charges O’Dwyer now faces.
In response, Jimmy Wales set up an online petition at Change.org in support of O’Dwyer and his family. It’s become a record breaking campaign, with 215,000 signatures making it the most signed petition ever to be held on the site.
However, Theresa May has remained silent, and now time is running out for O’Dwyer.
Jimmy Wales said: “The Home Secretary continues to ignore hundreds of thousands of citizens, the UK tech community, business leaders, celebrities and MPs from all parties on this issue. She should be very clear that we are not going to go away and new supporters are joining the campaign all the time. I urge her to meet with myself and Richard’s mother, Julia, as soon as possible.”
A distraught Julia O’Dwyer, Richard’s mother, added: “I can’t believe that Theresa May has not had the good grace to respond to this campaign so far. I had hoped that as an elected representative in a country that holds values of freedom so dear, she would have made some sort of response. I could lose my son for 10 years to a US prison for something that isn’t even a crime in the UK. I have been a taxpayer for my whole working life and now, when I need our government the most, they have totally failed me.”
If you’d like to show your support for O’Dwyer, you can do so by visiting the Petition link, //change.org/SaveRichard, or using the hashtag #saverichard on Twitter.