Kim Dotcom in Final Bid To Halt Extradition
Contentious internet businessperson Kim Dotcom has begun a last request to halt his repatriation from New Zealand to the US on copyright-related charges.
The FBI claims Mr. Dotcom’s Megaupload site received millions of dollars by easing criminal file-sharing.
But his lawyers told to New Zealand’s Supreme Court on Monday it was never meant to inspire copyright breaches.
Mr. Dotcom, who denies the charges, could face a long jail term in the US if extradited and found guilty.
Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batatom – all former Megaupload executives – stand blamed of the same charges, which include conspiracy to promise racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud.
The US Department of Justice has been trying to extradite the men since 2012, and in 2015 a New Zealand district court said it would permit the move.
The defendants have since lodged failed requests at the High Court and Court of Appeal, leading to a last push this week at the Supreme Court.
Mr. Dotcom established Megaupload in 2005 and went on to make millions of dollars from publicity and premium subscriptions on the site.
At its peak it was the 13th most famous website on the internet, accounting for 4% of all online circulation worldwide.
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But in 2012 the FBI charged the site’s owners, claiming they had knowingly broken copyright on a mass scale by hosting illegally created music, film and software files.
This, they said, had cost film and music producers some $500m of losses.
Mr. Dotcom – who was born in Germany but lives in New Zealand – was later under arrest during a dramatic armed raid at his mansion in Auckland, along with his co-accused.
The men have debated that the site, which was shut down in 2012, was planned only as a digital locker for users to store and share large files – something Mr. Dotcom reiterated in a Twitter post on Sunday.
Lawyers for the suspects also argue their actions did not amount to illegal offences in New Zealand, and are therefore not extraditable offences.
If New Zealand’s Supreme Court upholds the repatriation order, the last decision on the men’s fate will be made by the country’s Justice Minister Andrew Little.