Dotcom loses extradition case
Kim Dotcom and co-accused Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato have lost their extradition case.
In the Auckland District Court, Judge Nevin Dawson ruled there was a case to answer in the copyright violation, money laundering and racketeering charges brought by the US government against the Megaupload founders.
The "overwhelming preponderance" of evidence against the men established a prima facie case, Judge Dawson said.
All four were eligible for extradition on all counts, he said.
Under New Zealand's Extradition Act, Justice Minister Amy Adams must now decide whether to confirm the court's decision and go ahead with the extraditions.
Ms Adams' decision is a foregone conclusion. But don't expect Mr Dotcom to be on the next plane to the US.
Judge Dawson has given Mr Dotcom and his co-accused 15 days to appeal.
Mr Dotcom, who recently won access to funds in Hong Kong, is certain to exercise his right to appeal, and has options to pursue his case all the way to the Supreme Court, legal experts tell NBR. It will be a lengthy process. [UPDATE: Mr Dotcom's US attorney Ira Rothken has says all four will appeal, while Mr Dotcom told a media scrum outside the court, "This is not the last word on the matter ... we will go through this whole process until the very end."]
In the meantime, a fresh bail application is expected, given the defendants' change of status.
Mr Dotcom and his co-accused, who deny all charges, argued Megaupload was no different from other file sharing sites, and indeed was more proactive in taking down offending material to qualify for the "safe harbour" protection extended to web hosts in the US who co-operate with take-down provisions.
Quoting from Skype conversations between the co-accused, the US claims the Megaupload crew purposely made infringing material easier to discover on their site, and that Megaupload's cash payment incentive payments to those who shared popular files encouraged copyright infringement.
Read more about the arguments filed by both sides, and Mr Dotcom's appeal options, in NBR's earlier report.
Messrs Dotcom, Ortmann, van der Kolk and Batato won't be the first Megaupload staff to go to trial in the US In February. Megaupload programmer Andrus Nomm agreed to voluntarily travel to the US, where he pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement and was sentenced to one year and one day in jail. His light sentence led Mr Rothken to spectulate Mr Nomm had cut a deal with the US government to turn state's evidence (the copyright charges carry a maximum sentence of five years, the racketeering and money laundering charges 20 each).
The legal setback comes on the heels of an accommodation downsizing for Mr Dotcom, who mid-month decamped from his $30 million rented mansion in Coatesville to a $10 million penthouse apartment at Princes Wharf.
RAW DATA: The full judgment (PDF)
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