US Asked To Prove Kim Dotcom Crimes Before Extradition
The New Zealand judge wants Megaupload founder to be treated fairly
New Zealand High Court has requested the FBI produce evidence of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom’s illegal activities before it considers extraditing him to the US.
Justice Helen Winklemann has confirmed the previous ruling by Judge Harvey, saying that concealing evidence would give an unfair advantage to US prosecutors. Winklemann also found that the legal document asking Dotcom to be extradited did not comply with the law.
The charismatic leader of Megaupload denies he broke the law while operating his cloud hosting platform.
Burden of proof
Megaupload, the popular online depository, was closed down by the US Department of Justice in January as part of a multinational co-operative move against online intellectual property rights infringement. The founder and three of his employees were taken into custody by New Zealand police.
Dotcom has been accused of copyright theft, money laundering and racketeering fraud, and faces a jail sentence of up to 20 years if convicted in the US. Now, Justice Helen Winklemann has ruled that American authorities will have to back up their charges with evidence ahead of the extradition hearing, scheduled for March next year, according to the BBC.
“Without access to materials relevant to the extradition hearing phase, the person sought will be significantly constrained in his or her ability to participate in the hearing,” said Winkelmann in a written judgement.
The Judge also ruled that the document asking for Dotcom’s extradition does not currently meet New Zealand’s legal requirements.
The decision came on a day in which Dotcom went back to the High Court to once again seek access to his frozen assets – this time to pay lawyer’s bills which he has said are now worth millions of dollars.
The extradition hearing was originally scheduled for August, but has been repeatedly delayed, most recently because of two judicial reviews over the legality of search warrants used to raid Dotcom’s mansion.
After finding out that the case was postponed until next year, Dotcom took to Twitter to say he would happily go to the US and there was “no need for extradition”. However, the Megaupload founder said he wanted bail, living expenses and for his funds to be unfrozen so he could afford lawyers.
In June, the defence team accused the FBI of illegally copying digital materials to build a case against the website. According to Dotcom’s lawyers, US agents had broken the written agreement governing what could be done to the evidence, by taking the data obtained from Megaupload’s hard drives overseas without the consent of the New Zealand authorities.
It was recently claimed that the reason the elite Special Tactics Group was deployed to raid Kim Dotcom’s home was because he previously assaulted a former staff member – with his stomach. According to New Zealand Herald, this led the police to assume the 165kg man “posed a threat of injury or death to non-specialist officers”.
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