Entrepreneur strikes back against New Zealand government
Kim Dotcom, the founder of cloud hosting service Megaupload, has filed a lawsuit in which he accuses New Zealand authorities of illegally spying on him and using excessive force during the raid on his property in 2012.
He is asking for NZ$8.55 million (£4.3m) in damages, while continuing to fight extradition to the US.
Megaupload was closed in January 2012 as part of an international move against online copyright infringement. Dotcom and three of his employees were taken into custody by New Zealand police but later released on bail, giving the entrepreneur an opportunity to launch a new service – Mega.
Last Month, Dotcom stepped down as the director of Mega to focus on the extradition case, upcoming Mega music service, and creation of a political party.
Turning the tables
In March, the New Zealand Appeals Court had ruled that Dotcom should be allowed to sue the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) for illegally wiretapping his phones and computers.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Dotcom has delivered on his promise and filed a lawsuit in Auckland High Court, in which he also accuses the police of “excessively aggressive and invasive approach” during the subsequent raid. The entrepreneur claims deputy prime minister Bill English later tried to cover up the GCSB spying.
The lawsuit describes how anti-terrorist units arrived at Dotcom’s mansion in helicopters, kicked in the doors, handcuffed unarmed security staff and kept his wife Mona away from their young children.
In June 2012, the High Court had declared that the search warrants used to justify the raid on the home of Megaupload founder were “invalid”, as they weren’t specific enough to be used in the case.
Prime minister John Key had previously issued a public apology for the mistakes made by the law enforcement agencies in the Dotcom case. However, lawyers acting for the Crown say the use of Special Tactics Group in the raid was justified, and deny illegal surveillance or any attempted cover-up.
The raid was requested by the FBI, which seeks to put Dotcom on trial in the US. He stands accused of copyright theft, money laundering and racketeering fraud, and faces a jail sentence of up to 20 years if extradited and convicted.
Dotcom’s case will go to court in March, ahead of the planned extradition hearing.
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