US Authorities Deny Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload Entrapment Claims

A court filing says federal agents didn’t trick Kim Dotcom

The US government was once again forced to defend against the claims that it used underhand tactics to close the popular Megaupload file sharing service and arrest its founder, Kim Dotcom.

In the first days of 2013, Dotcom and his lawyers revealed that after being presented with a “secret” search warrant in 2011, the entrepreneur surrendered information on five Megaupload users that were allegedly infringing copyright. However, this evidence was later used against him and his company.

The claims have been described as “baseless” by the US authorities in a court filing.

Meanwhile, Dotcom has started advertising his new ‘Mega’ service on seven radio stations in New Zealand, ahead of the launch on Sunday.

Larger than life

Megaupload was closed down by the US Department of Justice in January last year, as part of an international move against online copyright infringement. Dotcom and three of his employees were arrested on charges of online piracy, fraud and money laundering, but have since been released on bail.

According to the federal authorities, at its peak, the site had over 50 million daily visitors, earning its operators over $175 million (£113m).

Two weeks ago, Dotcom claimed that before being arrested, he provided federal agents investigating the now defunct NinjaVideo service with access to certain databases. While this was going on, the entrepreneur was convinced that the US was treating his company as an ISP.

Obviously, the infringing files wouldn’t be deleted, since they were a part of an ongoing investigation. Later, the NinjaVideo files were used against Megaupload to seize its domains and prosecute Dotcom and his employees.

“Megaupload had every reason to retain those files in good faith because the government had sought and obtained Megaupload’s cooperation in retrieving those files and warned that alerting users to the existence of the warrant and the government’s interest in the files could compromise the investigation,” said Dotcom’s attorney Ira Rothken in a court filing, published by Wired.

“Megaupload’s allegations are baseless, as even a cursory review of Megaupload’s pleading and the search warrant materials at issue disproves the allegation that the government misled the court as part of a conspiracy to entrap Megaupload,” responded US government in another filing nine days later.

Authorities also noted that Megaupload couldn’t produce “a single instruction from any member of the government to Megaupload”, since “there are none”.

As a way of taunting his enemies, Dotcom has posted a picture on Instagram on Monday with a caption: “Almost a year ago prosecutors claimed I’m a flight risk to keep me in jail. Guess who’s still here.”

Dotcom on the radio

Meanwhile, Dotcom’s ‘Mega’ project is set to launch in four days. The new site will not employ North American hosting companies, in an effort to avoid the scrutiny of US authorities. According to the founder, it will be faster, offer more capacity than Megaupload and encrypt all content using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), rendering it immune to copyright claims.

According to the National Business Review, Dotcom has produced a series of 5, 15 and 30-second radio ads to promote the new service, and has been running them on seven New Zealand stations since Tuesday.

The adverts focus on the privacy features of Mega and its one-click encryption service. “One of the most basic human rights is privacy. You wouldn’t leave the door open when you took a poo-poo would you? So why would you leave your files exposed on the Internet?” states one of the promotional messages.

“I think nobody with a radio will be able to miss them,” Dotcom told NBR. He has also invited guests, including “any member of parliament”, to the launch event on Sunday at 7:30 PM (that’s Saturday 6:30 AM in the UK).

Dotcom still waits for an extradition hearing, which has been scheduled for 25 March.   

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