Lawyers for Internet mogul Kim Dotcom yesterday attacked the legal processes which led to him being declared eligible for extradition to the United States, as a new set of hearings began in the long-running legal saga.
In February 2017, the country’s High Court ruled that Dotcom, founder of the file-sharing service Megaupload, and his associates could be sent to the United States to face criminal charges including conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud.
A lawyer for Dotcom’s co-accused told the Court of Appeal in Wellington that the judicial process that led to the decision to uphold a previous ruling was flawed.
An example of this was the failure to disclose the illegal surveillance by New Zealand’s spy agency when applying for an arrest warrant in 2012, the New Zealand Herald reported. “We say that there was misleading conduct at that stage because there was no reference to the fact that information had been gathered illegally by the GCSB, and we have a judgement of the High Court to demonstrate that illegality”, Grant Illingworth QC, lawyer for Dotcom’s co-accused for Matthias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk told the court.
He also stressed that the US copyright charges do not apply under New Zealand law, and allowing extradition would go against what lawmakers intended.
Last year the High Court found that although the December 2015 decision was indeed flawed, the errors in the judgment were immaterial. While Megaupload’s copyright infringements weren’t a criminal offence in New Zealand, the other charges qualified as extradition offences.
The United States claim the operators of file-sharing website were involved in a worldwide criminal organisation that led to an estimated loss to copyright holders of more than $500mn in revenue from “pirated” movies, music, and other media.
Dotcom and three of his former colleagues could face decades in jail if extradited to the US and found guilty.
In August New Zealand’s spy agency GCSB was found to have acted unlawfully when it spied on Dotcom and van der Kolk who were both New Zealand residents at the time of the FBI-led Megaupload investigation.
In November Dotcom reached a confidential settlement, in his lawsuit against the New Zealand police force over a “Hollywood-style” raid on his luxurious mansion in 2012.
Last month he said he was suing the New Zealand government for billions of dollars in damages for “enabling the unlawful destruction of Megaupload and seizure of my global assets.”
The tech-mogul, born as Kim Schmitz in Kiel in Germany, has been a resident in New Zealand since 2010.
The 44-year-old has since released a music album and dabbled in New Zealand politics and last month married 22-year-old Elizabeth Donnelly. The hearing has been set down for two weeks, but a decision could still be months away.
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