New Zealand’s High Court has partially upheld an earlier decision that Megaupload co-founder Kim Dotcom and three of the site’s other co-founders are eligible for extradition to the U.S. The High Court said today that there are grounds for Dotcom and co-defendants Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, to be extradited under “general criminal-law fraud” provisions. However, the court overturned another part of a lower court’s December 2015 ruling, saying the quartet can’t be extradited on copyright-infringement grounds, because there is no equivalent copyright crime in New Zealand that would activate the extradition treaty, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Dotcom, who has been in a legal battle to avoid extradition since a January 2012 raid shut down the file-sharing service, claimed a “major victory” over the copyright ruling.
In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, he said, “The major part of this litigation has been won by this judgment — that copyright is not extraditable… Now they’re trying through the back door to say this was a fraud case. I’m confident going with this judgment to the Court of Appeal.”
I’ll be watching as the legal profession dissects this extradition judgement in a copyright case that is no longer a copyright case. 😜
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) February 20, 2017
The U.S. Justice Department has sought extradition on charges including criminal copyright infringement, money laundering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. Today’s verdict will now to go the Court of Appeal and could then be referred to New Zealand’s Supreme Court, the Wall Street Journal notes. It is widely expected the case could take another two years to resolve.
Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield said, “Look, we’re disappointed it’s not all over in the high court. But we’re one step away, as far as we’re concerned, from winning outright.”
According to the U.S. Justice Department, Megaupload’s efforts cost copyright owners, including the Hollywood studios, approximately $500M with the site making at least $175M during its run, largely from users illegally downloading songs, TV shows and films.
Dotcom was born Kim Schmitz in Germany and was granted permanent residence in New Zealand in 2010.