No escape from the long arm of the law? Extradition hearing for Kim Dotcom begins in Auckland
Kim Dotcom, the charismatic founder of Megaupload, is back in court in Auckland, New Zealand, as he fights extradition to the United States.
Dotcom is wanted by US authorities for copyright infringement and money laundering, and the extradition hearing this week is the result of years of legal manoeuvres by both parties.
Kim Dotcom is a unquestionably a colourful character, but the German is being pursued by the US because of his cloud storage service Megaupload.
The US alleges that this 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 was arrested by New Zealand police in early 2012 on orders from the US, and his mansion was raided. But Dotcom has repeatedly won subsequent legal tussles that have prevented 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.
But the United States is a persistent foe and Dotcom’s extradition hearing has finally begun in Auckland, New Zealand. The United States has to prove that a crime was committed in both countries before he can be extradited.
According to the BBC, the colourful Dotcom brought his own chair to the hearing, citing “ergonomic reasons”.
The hearing is expected to last a number of weeks.
“This case is not just about me. This case is about how much control we allow US corporations and the US government to have over the Internet,” Dotcom said on Twitter before proceedings began.
Dotcom has previously questioned the privacy of people’s data using any of these American services ever since the revelations from Edward Snowden that US-based companies had to hand over data to intelligence agencies such as the NSA upon request.
Well-wishers flooded his Twitter account with good luck messages.
“It’s totally uplifting to get so many good luck wishes from all over the Internet. One for all and all for one,” Dotcom tweeted.
“I never lived there. I never travelled there. I had no company there. But all I worked for now belongs to the US,” he also tweeted.
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