Harvard law professor and US presidential candidate backs Dotcom
An academic with a high international profile has filed an affidavit in support of Kim Dotcom and his co-accused, whose extradition case is scheduled to finally begin next week.
Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig says allegations made by the US Department of Justice "do not meet the requirements necessary to support a prima facie case that would be recognised by United States federal law."
Mr Lessig recently entered the US presidential race as a possible Democrat nominee . He is campaigning on a single issue — campaign finance and electoral law reform — and has yet to register in polls against Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and other candidates.
Read Professor Lessig's full affidavit here (PDF).
Mr Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato (all in New Zealand for Mr Dotcom's birthday) were arrested on January 20, 2012 after the FBI filed copyright violation, racketeering and money laundering charges. All maintain they are innocent. The FBI says they generated $US175 million in criminal proceeds.
A fifth member of the Megaupload crew, Andrus Nomm, was arrested in the Netherlands. In February 2014 he waived his right to extradition and travelled to the US, where he entered a guilty plea to copyright infringement charges and after a quick-fire trial was sentenced to one year and one day in prison.
Professor Lessig says there is no legal basis for Megaupload staff being held criminally responsible for a third-party copyright violation because "a crime of conspiracy requires an agreement with criminal infringers. No such agreement is shown."
Mr Dotcom has argued Megaupload was no different from other file-sharing sites and, indeed, was more co-operative in taking down infringing content. He has also recently posted a recording he made of a phone call with two Universal Music staffers who were keen to work with him rather than against him.
The DOJ, quoting from Skype conversations between the co-accused, says the Megaupload crew purposely made infringing material easier to discover on their site, and that Megaupload's cash payment incentive plan for those who shared popular files encouraged copyright infringement.
Mr Dotcom and his co-accused also face two civil suits in the US: one from major record labels and the other from Hollywood movie studios. Together they are claiming about $US400 million in damages.