US digs in over Dotcom evidence

Last updated 05:00 21/09/2012
Kim Dotcom
Reuters
COURT WRANGLE: Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom leaves the High Court in Auckland on August 7.

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The United States Government is continuing to fight against having to show internet millionaire Kim Dotcom the evidence it has against him on copyright and racketeering charges.

Speaking after a Court of Appeal hearing at Wellington yesterday, Dotcom said the case was malicious and part of the US Government trying to defend an outdated business model.

His words echoed what his lawyer had told the three judges in court. Paul Davison, QC, said the allegations depended on an interpretation of how the Megaupload internet site was used for people to access movies, games and music, and whether that was part of the intended service or incidental to providing a “cyberlocker”.

After the hearing, Dotcom said he thought he had complied with the law and wondered why a company such as YouTube had not been targeted.

A new Mega site could be expected after the case, but not like the old one, he said.

Yesterday's hearing was about a part of the extradition law so far not tested in any other New Zealand case. Dotcom said he wished he was not pioneering it.

"It was an interesting hearing and we have to see what the judges decide." The Court of Appeal reserved its decision.

The lawyer for the US, John Pike, told the court it was alleged that Dotcom and his co-defendants had stolen intellectual property such as movies and music on a vast scale. A US grand jury had decided there should be breach of copyright, racketeering and other charges.

When an application was made to extradite Dotcom and associates Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann, and Bram Van Der Kolk, the four men asked to see the evidence backing up the allegations, and two courts have now upheld their request, but on more limited terms than they had wanted.

Mr Pike said it would still amount to millions of documents, but the US says it should not have to go through the exercise because there was no power to order disclosure of the documents.

Instead, the US has elected to use a streamlined extradition process in which it files a “record of the case” summary which is presumed to be reliable, Mr Pike said. If the District Court judge at the extradition hearing thought the record was inadequate the government could be asked to add to the record.

The record of the case is suppressed. The extradition hearing is expected to take place in March.

Mr Pike said ordering the US to disclose its documents was inconsistent with the obligations in the extradition treaty it has with New Zealand.

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But Mr Davison said the extradition process was supposed to be like committing an accused for trial. The person being accused had the right to see the evidence and to challenge the inferences being drawn from it.

The US would not even give Dotcom copies of his own computer data seized in a police raid on his property in January.

Without the information the extradition hearing would go ahead with one side having its “hands tied behind his back”, Mr Davison said.

- Fairfax Media

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