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The campaign to save Richard O’Dwyer begins now

Column Gary McKinnon is safe, but his supporters cannot rest
Fri Oct 19 2012, 16:50

THERE WAS GOOD NEWS THIS WEEK when UK Home Secretary Theresa May finally delivered her decision that Gary McKinnon should remain in the UK.

A very long time coming, too long, her decision ended 10 years of torment for McKinnon, his mother and their supporters, and the news of it broke across the social networks like a wave.

"I have very carefully considered the representations made on Mr McKinnon's behalf, including from a number of clinicians. I have obtained my own medical advice from practitioners recommended to me by the Chief Medical Officer. And I have taken extensive legal advice," said May.

"After careful consideration of all of the relevant material, I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights. I have therefore withdrawn the extradition order against Mr McKinnon."

Phew. This was a relief. It even made McKinnon's lawyer shed some tears. It was welcomed in nearly all camps, including one belonging to someone who has become a close friend of the family, Julia O'Dwyer.

O'Dwyer is mother to Richard, the student who became an enemy of the media cartels when he administered a website called TV Shack.

TV Shack, for the uninitiated, offered up links to content that other people had posted online. It did not host content itself, like Youtube for example, but directed people to it, like Google for example.

This is not illegal in the UK, but it is in the US, and it is the US that wants to throw a very large book at the young chap, who, as we said above, was doing something that Google, and any other search engine does every day of the bloody week.

O'Dwyer is a young man, as was McKinnon when talk of his extradition first started, but he does not share the same illnesses. That does not mean that he should not be spared the same leniency though.

As his mother told me after the McKinnon announcement, there is a chance that what Theresa May said will have an impact on his case, and as she hopes it will, so do I.

May said that there will be a review of the extradition process, one that might apply to pending cases. Since O'Dwyer's case is pending, this must apply to his.

People are already pressing her for answers, both inside and outside the government. This week, the Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz wrote to May for an update on the case.

"In your statement you told the House you would bring forward a new forum bar as soon as Parliamentary time allows. It would be very useful to know when you expect this legislation to come before the House, and how will it affect those currently facing extradition to the United States. It would also be helpful to know how you intend to design the forum bar to minimise delays," wrote Vaz as he put the question everyone was asking to his peer.

"I would be grateful if you would let me know the current thinking concerning the extradition of Mr Richard O'Dwyer, whose appeal is due to be heard within six months. This seems very similar to the case of Mr McKinnon."

When I asked the Home Office, which is the place that May calls home, whether the decision would have any impact it told me that all cases are taken independently. That's fine, they can tell me that, but I expect that Vaz will want something a bit more involved. He expects a response before the end of October and we look forward to him getting it.

If Vaz isn't enough then there is someone else inside the Government that wants the O'Dwyer case sorted out, and that is Jimmy Wales. Wales is something of a techno tsar in the Commons these days and has the ears of those in power.

He launched the petition to save O'Dwyer, one that already has a quarter of a million signatures, and we expect that whenever he finds himself in the presence of ministers he reminds them of his interest.

So far then we have 250,000 people telling the government to keep Richard O'Dwyer in this country, and that number can only go up. The support that Gary McKinnon had will hopefully roll on to the young man and his mother and push the UK government in the direction of upholding liberty and actual justice. Not the sort of over-inflated justice that fat, angry and out of date media industry cartels would mete out.

You might not agree, you might think that what he did was wrong and that he should be punished by the US, we'll have to disagree over that. But I ask you, if your bullish neighbour was hanging over your garden fence and trying to punish one of your children for something that you thought was okay, would you let it happen? No, I wouldn't either. µ


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