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Dotcom search warrants declared illegal

Property search warrants and the FBI taking evidence offshore were ruled illegal – but the real crunch time will come on July 4.

Chris Keall and Caleb Allison
Fri, 29 Jun 2012

June 28, 4.25pm: Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann has ruled the search warrants used by police to seize property from Kim Dotcom's $30 million rented Coatesville mansion were illegal. 

In a judgment just released, she also rules it was unlawful for copies of Kim Dotcom's computer data to be taken offshore. 

The main points from Justice Winkelmann's judgment:

  • The search warrants used under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act were unlawful.
  • The FBI's removal of "clones", or copies, of computer data offshore was unlawful.
  • Any clones remaining in New Zealand must stay here. 
  • The attorney-general must provide Mr Dotcom with any clones currently held by New Zealand police. 

Review ordered
Justice Winkelmann also ordered the data that was seized from Mr Dotcom be analysed to determine what is and is not relevant to the charges he faces. 

She has ordered that:

  • An independent and "appropriately experienced" High Court lawyer conduct the review.
  • Copies of electronic data containing only relevant material be provided to US authorities. 
  • All items deemed not relevant be returned to Mr Dotcom. 
  • Any copies of relevant data which are provided to the US authorities must also be provided to Mr Dotcom.
  • The auditor-general request from the US authorities the "voluntary" return of the clones removed from New Zealand. 

Mr Dotcom's lawyer, Willie Akel, would not comment on Justice Winkelmann's judgment, but he told NBR ONLINE his team are preparing for next week's hearing.

The hearing is a judicial review of judge David Harvey's decision to grant Mr Dotcom disclosure of the evidence held against him. 

NBR ONLINE asked the Crown Law Office if, in light of today's judgment, it would be reviewing its involvement in assisting the US government in the extradition process of Mr Dotcom. 

Media spokeswoman Jan Fulstow said Crown Law would not be commenting on the matter at this time. 

The Dotcoms have recently taken to Twitter. Mona Dotcom was quick to react on the social network this afternoon, calling the judgement "amazing news".

Kim Dotcom's extradition hearing is due to begin August 6.

US authorities have indicted Mr Dotcom and his co-accused on racketeering, money laundering, wire fraud and copyright infringement charges.

Most relate to, which the FBI alleges generated more than $US175 million in illegal profits from advertising and premium accounts providing access to pirated movies and music.

Chris Keall and Caleb Allison
Fri, 29 Jun 2012
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Dotcom search warrants declared illegal