A New Zealand court has ruled that internet entrepreneur Kim “MegaUpload” Dotcom can be considered eligible for extradition to the United States to face multiple charges.
The 39-year-old German national, whose real name is Kim Schmitz, said “I’m disappointed,” to reporters outside the courtroom after the judgement.
Dotcom stands accused of racketeering, money laundering, and copyright infringement. The US Justice Department claims that Dotcom along with three other men cost film studios and record companies more than $500m. Dotcom’s arrest in 2012 was a dramatic affair when armed police raided his Auckland mansion. Dotcom has denied culpability on all the charges laid before him.
Judge Nevin Dawson told the Auckland court that the US had an “overwhelming” and “large body of evidence” that weighed heavily against the defendants. She also said that their defense against extradition had fallen “well short of undermining the case.” The conclusion to the 9 week court hearing has ended a four year battle by all four MegaUpload founders to avoid extradition to the US.
But Dotcom who describes himself as an “internet freedom fighter” on his Twitter page, has vowed not to give up and fight on. He claims that Mega Upload was a genuine file sharing site, and that he could not police everyone who used the site, and thus not responsible for the copyright infringement.
The New Zealand Minister for Justice, Amy Adams will have the final say in whether Dotcom will be or won’t be extradited, but has said she will wait to see if the ruling is appealed, clearly cognizant of the fact Dotcom is expected to fight on.
“If it is not then I will need to consider the court’s determination and receive advice from the Ministry of Justice on the relevant issues under the Extradition Act,” she said.
Dotcom tweeted after the trial: “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.”
If extradited and then found guilty in the US, Dotcom could face up to 20 years in jail.
Under a government visa scheme for wealthy immigrants, Kim Dotcom has permanent residency in New Zealand, although possibly not for much longer.