Kim Dotcom Extradition To US Granted, But Appeal Allowed

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Fresh twist in long-running extradition of controversial Kim Dotcom to the United States, following NZ Supreme Court ruling

The protracted extradition of Kim Dotcom to the United States continues, after a ruling by the Supreme Court in New Zealand.

Kim Dotcom is the charismatic co-founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload, and the Supreme Court in New Zealand has now ruled he can be returned to the US to face copyright charges.

But another spanner has been tossed into the works, as the NZ Supreme court also overturned another lower court’s decision, which effectively grants Dotcom the right to appeal.

US extradition

The case of German-born Kim Dotcom is a protracted one, beginning all the way back in 2012.

The United States alleged that Dotcom, who has residency status in New Zealand, as well as three other men (Mattias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato) who co-founded Megaupload, cost Hollywood film studios and record companies more than $500m, and generated $175m 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.

Dotcom is essentially wanted in the US for copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering, and in late 2015 the men lost their legal battle against extradition to the US.

Court of Appeal

But in Autumn 2016 Dotcom launched an appeal against that extradition ruling, and also filed claims for damages of roughly $10bn against US and New Zealand authorities “for the destruction of Megaupload” and the constraints on his liberty.

Fast forward two years and in July 2018 the Court of Appeal in New Zealand upheld that decision.

That left Dotcom and his defendants little choice but to appeal the case to New Zealand’s highest judicial body, the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court

Kim Dotcom began his final battle in the Supreme Court in New Zealand in June 2019 against his extradition to the United States.

Now in November 2020, New Zealand’s Supreme Court has ruled that Dotcom can be returned to the US to face copyright charges.

The court ruled that Kim Dotcom and his three co-accused were liable for extradition on 12 of the 13 counts the FBI is seeking to charge them with, the BBC reported.

But it also ruled that the Court of Appeal had made an error in dismissing judicial review requests from Dotcom, and granted him the right to continue with them.

This decision effectively grants Dotcom the right to appeal, meaning this legal battle is set to continue.

Dotcom reaction

Dotcom described the ruling as a “mixed bag”, but he will be pleased as he does face a lengthy prison sentence in the United States if convicted.

“For the Dotcom team, and especially for Kim and his family, it is a mixed bag,” Dotcom tweeted a statement from his lawyers. “There is no final determination that he is to go to the United States.”

“However, the Court has not accepted our important copyright argument and in our view has made significant determinations that will have an immediate and chilling impact on the Internet,” he added. “We will need to wait and see how the New Zealand and international Internet community reacts and responds to the judgement.”

“On the other side, the Court has accepted – correctly – that we should be able to argue that the serious procedural issues that have arisen in this case can and should be argued,” he added. “This means there will be further argument in the Court of Appeal and/or the Supreme Court regarding these significant concerns that are well established in the evidence. This is significant and means that nothing further can happen until the further required hearings take place.”

And Dotcom made clear he is not going to leave New Zealand voluntarily.

“Kim stays here, at home, with his family,” said the statement. “We welcome the opportunity to take the United States to task on its prosecution and management of this request for extradition.”

“This has been a political case and the United States have sought to thwart Mr Dotcom running any meaningful factual defence to it,” said the statement. “Mr Dotcom is grateful for the community support he continues to receive. And he remains committed to making the Internet available and at a fair cost to everybody.”

The case continues.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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