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Kim Dotcom Begins Appeal Against Extradition Ruling

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom wants New Zealand court appeal against extradition to be live streamed

Kim Dotcom, the charismatic founder of Megaupload, has begun his appeal in New Zealand against his extradition order to the United States.

Dotcom had lost his legal battle last Christmas against extradition to the United States, where he is wanted in the United States for copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering.

Live Streaming

The German national is being pursued by US authorities because of his cloud storage service Megaupload, which was closed down in early 2012.

Dotcom pledged to appeal the court decision after he, and three other men who co-founded Megaupload, were ruled to be eligible for extradition to the United States to face multiple charges.

The US allege the Megaupload website cost Hollywood film studios and record companies more than $500m (£322m), and generated $175m (£113m) by allowing users to store and share copyright material.

Dotcom’s appeal began in the High Court in Auckland on Monday, and immediately took an unusual twist when his legal team argued the hearing should be live streamed on YouTube.

“My lawyers are currently in court making argument for live streaming of my entire hearing,” Dotcom said on Twitter.

“US defends mass surveillance programs with ‘If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’ but opposes live streaming of my hearing,” he also tweeted, before pointing out that local media won’t mind if the court hearing was live streamed.

“NZ Media at court was asked & does not oppose live streaming (Thanks),” he added in a latter tweet. “US wants to stop it. Hoping the Judge will support transparency.”

Dotcom’s lawyer, Ira Rothken, confirmed that a request to stream a video of the hearing on the internet was made in court on Monday.

“We hope the court finds in favour of Livestreaming so the global community from Silicon Valley to Wellington, New Zealand, can access the courtroom in a case that can impact the entire internet community,” Rothken told Reuters in an email.

Rothken said he expected the judge to make a decision on live streaming on Tuesday.

This sentiment was echoed by Dotcom with another Tweet, in which he lamented the way the US authorities had closed down his cloud storage service, a move he argued that destroyed legitimate material and content.

“Millions of innocent users lost legitimate files when US destroyed Megaupload without due process. This is the ultimate public interest case,” Dotcom tweeted.

New Zealand prosecutors are representing the United States in the case, and reportedly said it was not appropriate to comment while the matter was before the courts.

Kim Dotcom - January 2012Colourful Life

Kim Dotcom is unquestionably a colourful character. For example, Dotcom insisted on bringing his own chair to the court room last year, citing “ergonomic reasons”.

Megaupload was closed down in early 2012, and Dotcom was arrested by New Zealand police on orders from the US. His mansion in New Zealand was also raided. But Dotcom repeatedly won subsequent legal tussles that delayed his extradition to the United States.

In September 2012, Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, apologised to Dotcom for unlawfully spying on him. New Zealand law prohibits spying on citizens or those who, like Dotcom, have a residence class visa.

And in June 2012, a New Zealand High Court declared the search warrants used in the raid on Dotcom’s mansion were “invalid”. In May 2013, Dotcom regained access to evidence seized during those raids.

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