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Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom facing extradition to US

Internet mogul, self proclaimed “Internet Freedom Fighter” and “Megaupload” founder Kim Dotcom, is facing extradition to the US, following a New Zealand court ruling.

Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz in West Germany), is facing ongoing legal difficulties that started in 2012 following an FBI ordered raid on his Auckland mansion and the shutdown of Megaupload, a site that allowed millions to download digital content, including films, music and television. Dotcom was originally charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with criminal copyright infringement, money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud, and has been involved since his arrest in 2012 with two supreme court cases and extradition proceedings.

Primary argument against his arrest, other than improper procedure by the FBI, has been that under US law, copyright infringement is a civil matter and cannot not be prosecuted as criminal fraud.

Megaupload was a file hosting and sharing online service where users could share links to files for viewing or editing. Megaupload’s business model was based on a combination of subscription fees, allowing for faster downloading, and advertising. Millions worldwide used Megaupload to store and access copies of TV shows, films, songs, porn, and software. It grew to over 150 employees, US$175 million in revenues, and 50 million daily visitors. United States authorities allege that Megaupload deprived film studios and record companies of roughly $500 million.

Image Kim Dotcom
Kim Dotcom (Twitter)

Dotcom, who claims to be a merely a scapegoat because of his involvement with hacking activities in the past, has asserted that the company actively tried to prevent copyright infringement – its terms of service forced users to agree they would not post copyrighted material to the website – and those with concerns were given direct access to delete infringing links. In addition, Dotcom has asserted it would be impossible for his staff to police all traffic and remove all infringing materials, and that regardless, under US privacy laws, staff are prohibited from looking into user accounts.

On February 20, in a 197 page decision, complete with another 166 page Appendix of appeal questions and answers, the Auckland High Court upheld the 2015 decision of the lower court on 13 counts, including allegations of conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud.

In the decision the court noted that:

“This case concerns the appellants’ liberty. The stakes are high. The appellants are entitled to a fair hearing before an impartial judge observing their rights to natural justice assured under the Bill of Rights Act 1990 … I reject the appellants’ contention that they have been denied a fair eligibility hearing. I also reject their allegation that the United States has breached its duty of good faith and candour. I am satisfied that the District Court Judge was correct to dismiss the appellants’ applications for a permanent stay of these extradition proceedings.”

Mr. Dotcom remains defiant.

In a February 23 Twitter post, Dotcom has claimed to have the support of President Donald Trump, posting an email purportedly from Trump, who joins Dotcom in blaming “liberals in the media, Hollywood, and the Democrat establishment”.

Dotcom, a vocal Trump supporter, jokingly poked at Trump last year over the President’s comment to deflect allegations of Russian hacking during the 2016 Election, stating, “It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds”. Dotcom, who weighs almost 400 pounds, responded on Twitter, “Hey @realDonaldTrump, I’m not 400 pounds and I have never hacked from inside my bed. However you owe me [wink emoji]”.

In July, 2016, Dotcom pledged to raise $1 million for WikiLeaks following the DNC disclosures. Dotcom even posted a song.

As the election approached, Dotcom announced on Twitter that if Trump were elected, he would settle his extradition case, get a green card, move Megaupload 2.0 to the US, “build another billion $ company, pay 15% tax, create thousands of jobs, and enjoy life”.

Dotcom and his lawyer have announced that he will appeal this recent decision to New Zealand’s Court of Appeal.

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Anthony A. LoPresti, LIMA CHARLIE NEWS

Lima Charlie provides global news, featuring insight & analysis by military veterans and intelligence professionals Worldwide.