Megaupload founder files for personal appearance by former President Obama in a New Zealand courtroom
The long-running appeal against an extradition order to the United States of Kim Dotcom, the charismatic founder of Megaupload, has taken an unusual twist this week.
Kim Dotcom has reportedly filed an application for former US President Barack Obama to appear in court while Obama visits New Zealand this week.
Dotcom and three other men who co-founded Megaupload lost their legal battle Christmas 2015 against extradition to the United States, where Dotcom is wanted in the United States for copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. But in Autumn 2016 he launched an appeal against that ruling.
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.
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.
For example 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.
And in September 2012, former 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.
But Dotcom was not happy with the police raid and has filed claims for damages of roughly $10bn in December against US and New Zealand authorities “for the destruction of Megaupload” and the constraints on his liberty for more than seven years.
As part of this case, Dotcom filed an application in Auckland on Monday asking for Obama to give evidence in his damages claim during his visit to New Zealand.
“There is evidence that President Obama (as he then was) knew the real purpose behind the United States prosecution. That, and further evidence of political motivation in the United States and New Zealand, is set out in the affidavit I have filed in the High Court at Auckland,” Dotcom was quoted by Reuters as saying.
The court has yet to respond to the application and its response could come after Obama’s departure. Obama will be in New Zealand from Wednesday to Friday, before leaving for Sydney.
Kim Dotcom is unquestionably a colourful character. For example, Dotcom insisted on bringing his own chair to the court room, citing “ergonomic reasons”.
It remains to be seen whether he is successful in getting Obama to appear in a New Zealand courtroom.
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