New Zealand court rules Kim Dotcom can be extradited to face charges in the US

A district court in New Zealand has ruled that Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom can be extradited to face copyright infringement charges in the United States.

Judge Nevin Dawson told the Auckland District Court on Tuesday that US prosecutors had fulfilled all necessary evidence and requirements to meet demands of the extradition. The decision equally affects Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato –  associates of Dotcom and co-founders of the once hugely popular file-sharing portal.

If, or when, extradited, the group is set to face multiple charges in the United States, including accusations of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. However, Dotcom told journalists on Wednesday that, despite obvious disappointment, he plans on continuing to fight his case by appealing against the court’s decision.

In his most latest interview with The New Zealand Herald, Dotcom admits that he is not yet aware of how long the extradition process will take, as both sides were able to lodge an appeal if required. The German-born father of five estimates that the proceedings could consume anything from “a year and a half, two, three years or more”.

Legal battle

Since the raid of his larger-than-life Auckland mansion in January, 2012, Dotcom has found himself tied up in numerous court battles, taking him on a legal rollercoaster ride which has ultimately led up to yesterday’s decision.

In December 2014, New Zealand’s Supreme Court decided that the disputed search warrants used by the police during the operation were flawed, but not invalid.

Dotcom’s legal team argued that the warrants were too broad to have enabled authorities to seize multiple luxury cars, millions in cash from bank accounts, 150TB of data from his computers and even force entry into the mansion’s panic room, where he took refuge during the raid.

In April 2014, the multimillionaire and his legal team had room to celebrate having managed to win back his cars and some of the money confiscated during the FBI-orchestrated operation. Requests by the police to extend the term for keeping the assets seized were rejected by a New Zealand court.

However, less than a year later, the victory was heavily overshadowed when the US government won a separate civil forfeiture case and was legally granted rights to Dotcom’s assets worth $67 million, among which included numerous bank accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand as well as luxury cars and jet skis. This defeat had only set the stage for yesterday’s crucial court decision.

But despite the ruling, the entrepreneur remained fairly optimistic on Twitter, expressing appreciation for his supporters, staying defiant and hinting that the holiday spirit will not be shrouded by the significant developments in the Megaupload case:

Ira Rothken – a prominent member of Dotcom’s legal team likewise remained upbeat on the prospects of a “robust appellate process”, looking forward towards challenging the decision, this time, in High Court.

Timeline of Kim Dotcom’s case

  • March, 2005: Kim Dotcom launches cloud storage and file-sharing website Megaupload from Hong Kong. The site quickly grew to become on of the most visited destinations on the web, attracting over “50 million daily visitors” and claiming to have attracted 4% of the internet’s traffic.
  • November, 2010: Dotcom is granted residency in New Zealand, shortly after which, he is convicted and fined in absentia in Hong Kong for not disclosing shareholding levels.
  • January, 2012: United States authorities seize and shut down Megaupload on grounds of copyright infringement. Hong Kong Customs freeze company assets worth $39 million.
  • January, 2012: At the request of the FBI, New Zealand’s police and even an elite anti-terrorism unit raid Dotcom’s mansion, seizing assets worth $17 million including artwork and cars. During the raid, the police arrest Dotcom and his associates. US authorities serve the accused with first indictment.
  • September, 2015: Extradition hearing commences in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • December, 2015: Auckland District judge rules Dotcom and associates may extradited to the United States to face several copyright-related charges.

TREMENDOUS

Leave a Comment