A New Zealand court ruled Wednesday that Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and three of his colleagues can be extradited to the United States where they face criminal charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering, among others.
The ruling by Judge Nevin Dawson came almost four years after U.S. authorities shut down Dotcom’s file hosting website, Megaupload, which was once among the most popular sites on the Internet. Dotcom, a German-Finnish dual citizen living in New Zealand, was accused of causing losses of over $500 million to film studios and record companies by facilitating illegal sharing of movies and music through Megaupload.
“The overwhelming preponderance of evidence ... establishes a prima facie case to answer for all respondents on each of the counts,” Judge Dawson wrote in his ruling, according to the Associated Press. He was not ruling on the guilt of the accused, but only on whether the U.S. had a valid case to seek their extradition.
Dotcom’s legal team is already preparing to appeal the decision of the district court. Ira Rothken, one of Dotcom’s lawyers, said on Twitter that “justice was not served” and that the team “looks forward to having the US request for extradition reviewed in the High Court.”
All the four accused remained free on bail after the ruling, pending their appeals.
In a possible deterrent to his extradition, Dotcom is now eligible to be a New Zealand citizen, and not just a permanent resident, as he is now. Under the extradition treaty between New Zealand and the U.S., neither country is legally bound to deliver up its own citizens. Rothken declined to comment on whether Dotcom had already applied to become a New Zealand citizen, Ars Technica reported.
This case could have broader implications for copyright rules and the Internet. Ron Mansfield, another of Dotcom’s lawyers, had earlier said that if the U.S. side prevails, websites from YouTube to Facebook would need to more carefully police their content.
Megaupload was also accused of generating more than $175 million through collection of fees from users to allow them to upload and share copyrighted material. Acting in response to the American charges, New Zealand police had raided Dotcom’s residence in January 2012 and placed him in custody.
Thank you for your support. The fight goes on. Enjoy the holidays. I'm happy to be with my kids. There are bigger things than copyright :-)
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) December 23, 2015