Tag Archives: Mathias Ortmann

Kim Dotcom Begins New Fight to Avoid Extradition to United States

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-begins-new-fight-to-avoid-extradition-to-united-states-180212/

More than six years ago in January 2012, file-hosting site Megaupload was shut down by the United States government and founder Kim Dotcom and his associates were arrested in New Zealand.

What followed was an epic legal battle to extradite Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato, and Bram van der Kolk to the United States to face several counts including copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering. Dotcom has battled the US government every inch of the way.

The most significant matters include the validity of the search warrants used to raid Dotcom’s Coatesville home on January 20, 2012. Despite a prolonged trip through the legal system, in 2014 the Supreme Court dismissed Dotcom’s appeals that the search warrants weren’t valid.

In 2015, the District Court later ruled that Dotcom and his associates are eligible for extradition. A subsequent appeal to the High Court failed when in February 2017 – and despite a finding that communicating copyright-protected works to the public is not a criminal offense in New Zealand – a judge also ruled in favor.

Of course, Dotcom and his associates immediately filed appeals and today in the Court of Appeal in Wellington, their hearing got underway.

Lawyer Grant Illingworth, representing Van der Kolk and Ortmann, told the Court that the case had “gone off the rails” during the initial 10-week extradition hearing in 2015, arguing that the case had merited “meaningful” consideration by a judge, something which failed to happen.

“It all went wrong. It went absolutely, totally wrong,” Mr. Illingworth said. “We were not heard.”

As expected, Illingworth underlined the belief that under New Zealand law, a person may only be extradited for an offense that could be tried in a criminal court locally. His clients’ cases do not meet that standard, the lawyer argued.

Turning back the clocks more than six years, Illingworth again raised the thorny issue of the warrants used to authorize the raids on the Megaupload defendants.

It had previously been established that New Zealand’s GCSB intelligence service had illegally spied on Dotcom and his associates in the lead up to their arrests. However, that fact was not disclosed to the District Court judge who authorized the raids.

“We say that there was misleading conduct at this stage because there was no reference to the fact that information had been gathered illegally by the GCSB,” he said.

But according to Justice Forrest Miller, even if this defense argument holds up the High Court had already found there was a prima facie case to answer “with bells on”.

“The difficulty that you face here ultimately is whether the judicial process that has been followed in both of the courts below was meaningful, to use the Canadian standard,” Justice Miller said.

“You’re going to have to persuade us that what Justice Gilbert [in the High Court] ended up with, even assuming your interpretation of the legislation is correct, was wrong.”

Although the US seeks to extradite Dotcom and his associates on 13 charges, including racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud, the Court of Appeal previously confirmed that extradition could be granted based on just some of the charges.

The stakes couldn’t be much higher. The FBI says that the “Megaupload Conspiracy” earned the quartet $175m and if extradited to the US, they could face decades in jail.

While Dotcom was not in court today, he has been active on Twitter.

“The court process went ‘off the rails’ when the only copyright expert Judge in NZ was >removed< from my case and replaced by a non-tech Judge who asked if Mega was ‘cow storage’. He then simply copy/pasted 85% of the US submissions into his judgment," Dotcom wrote.

Dotcom also appeared to question the suitability of judges at both the High Court and Court of Appeal for the task in hand.

“Justice Miller and Justice Gilbert (he wrote that High Court judgment) were business partners at the law firm Chapman Tripp which represents the Hollywood Studios in my case. Both Judges are now at the Court of Appeal. Gilbert was promoted shortly after ruling against me,” Dotcom added.

Dotcom is currently suing the New Zealand government for billions of dollars in damages over the warrant which triggered his arrest and the demise of Megaupload.

The hearing is expected to last up to two-and-a-half weeks.

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Kim Dotcom Loses Megaupload Domain Names, Gets “Destroyed” Gaming Chair Back

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-loses-megaupload-domain-names-gets-destroyed-gaming-chair-back-180117/

Following the 2012 raid on Megaupload and Kim Dotcom, U.S. and New Zealand authorities seized millions of dollars in cash and other property, located around the world.

Claiming the assets were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes, the U.S. government launched separate civil cases in which it asked the court to forfeit bank accounts, servers, domain names, and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

One of these cases was lost after the U.S. branded Dotcom and his colleagues as “fugitives”.The defense team appealed the ruling, but lost again, and a subsequent petition at the Supreme Court was denied.

Following this lost battle, the U.S. also moved to conclude a separate civil forfeiture case, which was still pending at a federal court in Virginia.

The assets listed in this case are several bank accounts, including several at PayPal, as well as 60 servers Megaupload bought at Leaseweb. What has the most symbolic value, however, are the domain names that were seized, including Megaupload.com, Megaporn.com and Megavideo.com.

Mega’s domains

This week a U.S. federal court decided that all claims of Kim Dotcom, his former colleague Mathias Ortman, and several Megaupload-related companies should be stricken. A default was entered against them on Tuesday.

The same fugitive disentitlement argument was used in this case. This essentially means that someone who’s considered to be a fugitive from justice is not allowed to get relief from the judicial system he or she evades.

“Claimants Kim Dotcom and Mathias Ortmann have deliberately avoided prosecution by declining to enter or reenter the United States,” Judge Liam O’Grady writes in his order to strike the claims.

“Because Claimant Kim Dotcom, who is himself a fugitive under Section 2466, is the Corporate Claimants’ controlling shareholder and, in particular, because he signed the claims on behalf of the corporations, a presumption of disentitlement applies to the corporations as well.”

As a result, the domain names which once served 50 million users per day, are now lost to the US Government. The court records list 18 domains in total, which were registered through Godaddy, DotRegistrar, and Fabulous.

Given the legal history, the domains and other assets are likely lost for good. However, Megaupload defense lawyer Ira Rothken is not giving up yet.

“We are still evaluating the legal options in a climate where Kim Dotcom is being labeled a fugitive in a US criminal copyright case even though he has never been to the US, is merely asserting his US-NZ extradition treaty rights, and the NZ High Court has ruled that he and his co-defendants did not commit criminal copyright infringement under NZ law,” Rothken tells TorrentFreak.

There might be a possibility that assets located outside the US could be saved. Foreign courts are more open to defense arguments, it seems, as a Hong Kong court previously ordered the US to return several assets belonging to Kim Dotcom.

The Hong Kong case also brought some good news this week. At least, something that was supposed to be positive. On Twitter, Dotcom writes that two containers with seized assets were returned, but in a “rotten and destroyed” state.

“A shipment of 2 large containers just arrived in New Zealand. This is how all my stuff looks now. Rotten & destroyed. Photo: My favorite gaming chair,” Dotcom wrote.

According to Dotcom, the US Government asked him to pay for ‘climate controlled’ storage for more than half a decade to protect the seized goods. However, judging from the look of the chair and the state of some other belongings, something clearly went wrong.

Rotten & destroyed

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Kim Dotcom Wins Settlement Over Military-Style Police Raid

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-wins-settlement-military-style-police-raid-171103/

It’s been spoken about thousands of times in the past half-decade but the 2012 raid on Kim Dotcom’s home in New Zealand was extraordinary by any standard.

At the behest of the US Government, 72 police officers – including some from the elite heavily armed Special Tactics Group (STG) – descended on Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion. Two helicopters were used during the raid, footage from which was later released to the public as the scale and nature of the operation became clear.

To be clear, no one in the Dotcom residence had any history of violence. Nevertheless, considerable force was used to attack rooms in the building, all of it aimed at detaining the founder of what was then the world’s most famous file-hosting site. The FBI, it seems, would stop at nothing in pursuit of the man they claimed was the planet’s most notorious copyright infringer.

As the dust settled, it became clear that the overwhelming use of force was not only unprecedented but also completely unnecessary, a point Dotcom himself became intent on pressing home.

The entrepreneur was particularly angry at the treatment received by former wife Mona, who was seven months pregnant with twins at the time. So, in response, the Megaupload founder and his wife sued the police, hoping to hold the authorities to account for their actions.

The case has dragged on for years but this morning came news of a breakthrough. According to information released by Kim Dotcom, the lawsuit has been resolved after a settlement was reached with the police.

“Today, Mona and I are glad to reach a confidential settlement of our case against the New Zealand Police. We have respect for the Police in this country. They work hard and have, with this one exception, treated me and my family with courtesy and respect,” Dotcom said.

“We were shocked at the uncharacteristic handling of my arrest for a non-violent Internet copyright infringement charge brought by the United States, which is not even a crime in New Zealand.”

Dotcom said police could have simply asked to be let in, at which point he could have been arrested. Instead, under pressure from US authorities and “special interests in Hollywood”, they turned the whole event into a massive publicity stunt aimed at pleasing the US.

“The New Zealand Police we know do not carry guns. They try to resolve matters in a non-violent manner, unlike what we see from the United States. We are sad that our officers, good people simply doing their job, were tainted by US priorities and arrogance,” Dotcom said.

“We sued the Police because we believed their military-style raid on a family with children in a non-violent case went far beyond what a civilised community should expect from its police force. New Zealanders deserve and should expect better.”

Kim Dotcom has developed a reputation for fighting back across all aspects of his long-running case, and this particular action was no different. He’d planned to take the case all the way to the High Court but in the end decided that doing so wouldn’t be in the best interests of his family.

Noting that New Zealand has a new government “for the better”, Dotcom said that raking up the past would only serve to further disrupt his family.

“Our children are now settled and integrated safely here into their community and they love it. We do not want to relive past events. We do not want to disrupt our children’s new lives. We do not want to revictimise them. We want them to grow up happy,” he said.

“That is why we chose New Zealand to be our family home in the first place. We are fortunate to live here. Under the totality of the circumstances, we thought settlement was best for our children.”

According to NZ Herald, the Dotcoms aren’t the only ones to have made peace with the police. Other people arrested in 2012, including Dotcom associates Bram van der Kolk and Mathias Ortmann, were paid six-figure sums to settle. The publication speculates that as the main target of the raid, Dotcom’s settlment amount would’ve been more.

But while this matter is now closed, others remain. It was previously determined that Kiwi spy agency the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) unlawfully spied on the Dotcoms over an extended period. Ron Mansfield, New Zealand counsel for the Dotcoms, says that case will continue.

“The GCSB refuses to disclose what it did or the actual private communications it stole. The Dotcoms understandably believe that they are entitled to know this. That action is pending appeal in the Court of Appeal,” he says.

Also before the Court of Appeal is the case to extradite Dotcom and his associates to the United States. That hearing is set for February 2018 but whatever the outcome, a further appeal to the Supreme Court is likely, meaning that Dotcom will remain in New Zealand until 2020, at least.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom Asks Court For $829K to Fund Family Expenses

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-asks-court-for-829k-to-fund-family-expenses-171102/

When Megaupload was shut down in January 2012, US authorities did everything within their power to financially ruin Kim Dotcom and his associates.

Aside from taking much of his personal property, tens of millions of dollars of assets were seized around the world.

Under instruction from the U.S. government, US$42.57m in assets were seized in Hong Kong and since then Dotcom has been trying to claw it back, bit by bit.

Back in July, Dotcom revealed that the Hong Kong High Court had released more of his funds, plus four containers of seized property. Noting that he missed the country, he gave thanks for the lifeline.

“Thanks to a Hong Kong Judge my family can move to Queenstown and my kids will be surrounded by beautiful mountains & lakes instead of spies,” Dotcom said.

That move eventually went ahead, with Dotcom regularly tweeting beautiful waterside views from his new home over the past few months. But of course, nice things tend to cost quite a bit of money, so Dotcom’s legal team have been working hard in Hong Kong to have more funds released.

According to a report from NZHerald, his latest request is fairly sizeable, reaching NZ$1.2m (US$829,400), everything considered.

First up, Dotcom is seeking around NZ$1m (US$691,200) for costs relating to his relocation from Auckland to Queenstown. That’s comprised of two years worth of rent at NZ$40,000 (US$27,648) per month (no typo), plus NZ$150,000 (US$103,680) to cover the actual cost of the move.

On top, Dotcom is looking for NZ$73,000 (US$50,457) per month for living expenses, an amount that’s roughly US$2,000 per month up on the amount he currently receives.

According to the report, Dotcom’s team are also proposing a further amount of NZ$200,000 (US$138,240) to cover emergency items including “medical expenses of the family, car maintenance, household repairs and two holidays of the family”.

It seems unlikely that this will be the final request from Dotcom. According to Gerard McCoy, Dotcom’s lawyer in Hong Kong, the extradition process in New Zealand is nowhere near complete. In fact, McCoy told the court that proceedings won’t be completed during the next two years.

That takes us to 2020, at least, meaning that Dotcom will still be in New Zealand a full eight years after the raid. Given the massive number of court battles and subsequent appeals into every detail of several resulting cases, that’s probably not a surprise, however.

The progress in the extradition process itself is also somewhat glacial, with the next hearing set for the first quarter of 2018 in the Court of Appeal. If past experience is anything to go by, neither side will be happy with the outcome. This means that an appeal to the Supreme Court is almost inevitable.

Over in the United States, progress has also been slow. Recently, a petition from Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues over millions of dollars in seized assets was denied by the US Supreme Court.

While this decision means that the battle over a further US$67 million in assets has been exhausted, the question of whether Dotcom and former colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato will ever stand trial in the US remains unanswered.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Entire Kim Dotcom Spying Operation Was Illegal, High Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/entire-kim-dotcom-spying-operation-was-illegal-high-court-rules-170825/

In the months that preceded the January 2012 raid on file-storage site Megaupload, authorities in New Zealand used the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) spy agency to monitor Kim and Mona Dotcom, plus Megaupload co-defendant Bram van der Kolk.

When this fact was revealed it developed into a crisis. The GCSB was forbidden by law from conducting surveillance on its own citizens or permanent residents in the country, which led to former Prime Minister John Key later apologizing for the error.

With Dotcom determined to uncover the truth, the entrepreneur launched legal action in pursuit of the information illegally obtained by GCSB and to obtain compensation. In July, the High Court determined that Dotcom wouldn’t get access to the information but it also revealed that the scope of the spying went on much longer than previously admitted, a fact later confirmed by the police.

This raised the specter that not only did the GCSB continue to spy on Dotcom after it knew it was acting illegally, but that an earlier affidavit from a GCSB staff member was suspect.

With the saga continuing to drag on, revelations published in New Zealand this morning indicate that not only was the spying on Dotcom illegal, the entire spying operation – which included his Megaupload co-defendants – was too.

The reports are based on documents released by Lawyer Peter Spring, who is acting for Bram van der Kolk and Mathias Ortmann. Spring says that the High Court decision, which dates back to December but has only just been made available, shows that “the whole surveillance operation fell outside the authorization of the GCSB legislation as it was at the relevant time”.

Since Dotcom is a permanent resident of New Zealand, it’s long been established that the GCSB acted illegally when it spied on him. As foreigners, however, Megaupload co-defendants Finn Batato and Mathias Ortmann were previously considered valid surveillance targets.

It now transpires that the GCSB wasn’t prepared to mount a defense or reveal its methods concerning their surveillance, something which boosted the case against it.

“The circumstances of the interceptions of Messrs Ortmann and Batato’s communications are Top Secret and it has not proved possible to plead to the allegations the plaintiffs have made without revealing information which would jeopardize the national security of New Zealand,” the Court documents read.

“As a result the GCSB is deemed to have admitted the allegations in the statement of claim which relate to the manner in which the interceptions were effected.”

Speaking with RadioNZ, Grant Illingworth, a lawyer representing Ortmann and van der Kolk, said the decision calls the entire GCSB operation into doubt.

“The GCSB has now admitted that the unlawfulness was not just dependent upon residency issues, it went further. The reason it went further was because it didn’t have authorization to carry out the kind of surveillance that it was carrying out under the legislation, as it was at that time,” Illingworth said.

In comments to NZHerald, Illingworth added that the decision meant that the damages case for Ortmann and van der Kolk had come to an end. He refused to respond to questions of whether damages had been paid or a settlement reached.

He did indicate, however, that there could be implications for the battle underway to have Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk extradited to the United States.

“If there was illegality in the arrest and search phase and that illegality has not previously been made known in the extradition context then it could be relevant to the extradition,” Illingworth said.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Megaupload Case Takes Toll on Finn Batato, But He’ll Keep Fighting

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/megaupload-case-takes-toll-on-finn-batato-but-hell-keep-fighting-170227/

Whenever there’s a new headline about the years-long prosecution of Megaupload, it is usually Kim Dotcom’s image adorning publications around the world. In many ways, the German-born entrepreneur is the face of the United States’ case against the defunct storage site, and he appears to like it that way.

Thanks to his continuous presence on Twitter, regular appearances in the media, alongside promotion of new file-sharing platforms, one might be forgiven for thinking Dotcom was fighting the US single-handedly. But quietly and very much in the background, three other men are also battling for their freedom.

Megaupload programmers Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk face a similar fate to Dotcom but have stayed almost completely silent since their arrests in 2012. Former site advertising manager Finn Batato, whose name headlines the entire case (US v. Finn Batato) has been a little more vocal though, and from recent comments we learn that the US prosecution is taking its toll.

Seven years ago before the raid, Batato was riding the crest of a wave as Megaupload’s CMO. According to the FBI he pocketed $630,000 in 2010 and was regularly seen out with Dotcom having fun, racing around the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife track with Formula 1 star Kimi Raikkonen, for example. But things are different now.

Finn with Kimi Raikkonen

While still involved with Mega, the new file-sharing site that Dotcom founded and then left after what appears to be an acrimonious split, Batato is reportedly feeling the pressure. In a new interview with Newshub, the marketing expert says that his marriage is on the rocks, a direct result of the US case against him.

According to Batato, he’s now living in someone else’s house, something he hasn’t done “for 25 years.” It’s a far cry from the waterside luxury being enjoyed by Dotcom.

Batato met wife Anastasia back in 2012, not long after the raid and while he was still under house arrest. The pair married in 2015 and have two children, Leo and Oskar.

“The constant pressure over your head – not knowing what is there to come, is very hard, very tough,” Batato said in an earlier interview with NZHerald.

“Everything that happens in our life happens with that big black cloud over our heads which especially has an impact on me and my mood because I can’t just switch it off. If everything goes down the hill, maybe I will see [my sons] once every month in a prison cell. That breaks my heart. I can’t enjoy it as much as I would want to. It’s highly stressful.”

Since then, Batato has been busy. While working as Mega’s Chief Marketing Officer, the German citizen has been learning about the law. He’s had to. Unlike Dotcom who can retain the best lawyers in the game, Batato says he has few resources.

What savings he had were seized on the orders of the United States in Hong Kong back in 2012, and he previously admitted to having to check his bank account before buying groceries. As a result he’s been conducting his own legal defense for almost two years.

In 2015 he reportedly received praise while doing so, with lawyers appearing for his co-defendants commending him when he stood up to argue a point during a Megaupload hearing. “I was kind of proud about that,” he said.

Like Dotcom (with whom he claims to be on “good terms”), Batato insists that he’s done nothing wrong. He shares his former colleague’s optimism that he won’t be extradited and will take his case to the Supreme Court, should all else fail.

That may be necessary. Last week, the New Zealand High Court determined that Batato and his co-defendants can be extradited to the US, albeit not on copyright grounds. Justice Murray Gilbert agreed with the US Government’s position that their case has fraud at its core, an extraditable offense.

In the short term, the case is expected to move to the Court of Appeal and, depending on the outcome there, potentially to the Supreme Court. Either way, this case still has years to run with plenty more legal appearances for Batato. He won’t be doing it with the legal backup enjoyed by Dotcom but he’ll share his determination.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom Extradition to Go Ahead, But Not on Copyright Grounds

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-extradition-to-go-ahead-but-not-on-copyright-grounds-170220/

Following an extradition hearing lasting 10 weeks back in 2015, a New Zealand District Court judge ruled that Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues could be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges.

Dotcom immediately announced an appeal to the High Court, which took place over four weeks last September. Justice Murray Gilbert handed down his decision today, one that’s both thought-provoking and controversial.

At the very center of the US Government’s case against Dotcom and former colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk, is the notion that the quartet engaged in criminal copyright infringement. Indeed, it was stated on numerous occasions that their case is the biggest copyright infringement case of all time.

However, in his 363-page ruling (pdf), Justice Gilbert found that there is no equivalent copyright crime in New Zealand that would allow Dotcom and his co-defendants to be transferred to the United States under the extradition treaty.

“One of the central issues in the case is whether copyright infringement by digital online communication of copyright protected works to members of the public is a criminal offense in New Zealand under the Copyright Act,” an announcement from the Court reads.

“The High Court has held that it is not, contrary to the conclusion reached in the District Court. The appellants have therefore succeeded with one of the main planks of their case.”

While this might initially sound like the best possible news for Dotcom and his colleagues (and it may yet prove useful), that’s not the full picture. The US Government wants to extradite the quartet to face trial on a total 13 counts, which include allegations of conspiracy to commit racketeering as well as money laundering and wire fraud.

So, while the copyright infringement charges have now been ruled out as grounds for extradition, the other charges remain.

In today’s ruling, the High Court found that while the District Court’s decision of December 2015 was flawed in detail, its conclusion that the extradition of Dotcom and his colleagues can go ahead still stands, “because there are available pathways for extradition” on each count.

“[T]he High Court has confirmed that Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, Kim Dotcom, Finn Batato (the appellants) are eligible for extradition under section 24 of the Extradition Act 1999,” the Court’s summary reads.

According to Justice Gilbert, the core of the case deals with a conspiracy to defraud – an extraditable offense – but in comments this morning, Dotcom said that even that shouldn’t be applicable.

“I’m no longer getting extradited for Copyright. We won on that. I’m now getting extradited for a law that doesn’t even apply,” he wrote.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that copyright charges can’t be fraud charges. Let’s just ignore that minor detail over here in New Zealand.”

In a statement, Dotcom’s barrister Ron Mansfield said that having won the copyright infringement argument, it is “extremely disappointing” to have a negative outcome overall, but all is not lost.

Supporting Dotcom in his assertion that the US Supreme Court has ruled that copyright infringement is not fraud, he explained that the situation in New Zealand doesn’t support it either.

“The High Court has accepted that Parliament made a clear and deliberate decision not to criminalize this type of alleged conduct by internet service providers, making them not responsible for the acts of their users,” he said.

“For the Court to then permit the same conduct to be categorized as a type of fraud in our view disrupts Parliament’s clear intent. The High Court decision means that Parliament’s intended protection for internet service providers is now illusory. That will be a concern for internet service providers and impact on everyone’s access to the internet.”

It will be of little surprise to learn that despite this ruling, the battle isn’t over yet. Mansfield confirms that this “politically charged and misunderstood case” will now head off to the Court of Appeal.

“We remain confident that this last point, which would prevent extradition in this complex and unprecedented legal case, will be resolved in Kim’s favor in a manner consistent with Parliament’s intent, international law and, importantly one might think, the United States’ own law,” he concludes.

So what next for this epic case?

In the short term, it’s expected that both sides will challenge aspects of Justice Gilbert’s ruling at the Court of Appeal. Depending on the outcome there, the case could conceivably move to the Supreme Court and from there into the hands of the Minister of Justice. All of that could take another two years – or more.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Megaupload: Court Copy-Pasted U.S. Lawyers, Made Glaring Errors

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/megaupload-court-copy-pasted-u-s-lawyers-made-glaring-errors-160907/

megaupload-logoLast December a New Zealand District Court ruled that Kim Dotcom and his colleagues can be sent to the United States to face criminal charges.

Judge Nevin Dawson found there was an “overwhelming” case for Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, to be extradited.

This decision was immediately appealed and last week a lengthy series of appeal hearings kicked off at New Zealand’s High Court. Represented by a team of lawyers, the Megaupload defendants say that Judge Nevin Dawson failed to give them a fair hearing.

During the most recent hearing, which was live-streamed on YouTube, Kim Dotcom’s defense lawyer Ron Mansfield argued that the lower court made several errors in its final ruling.

For example, it relied heavily on the writings of U.S. Government lawyers. According to Mansfield, the verdict included copy-pasted text from U.S. contributions to the record of case (ROC) on close to 60% of all pages.

“At [156 pages of his 271-page judgment] the Judge has simply replicated in full passages from the US submissions on the ROC and asserted inferences,” Mansfield noted.

“He has erred by failing to weigh the evidence and to determine whether the asserted inference is available and reasonable. He also fails to even seek to adopt the inferences promoted,” he added.

Dotcom’s lawyer lists numerous errors allegedly made by the District Court, discussing them point by point while noting that not all U.S. evidence should have been taken at face value.



In essence, the defense’s argument boils down to the question of whether the claimed offenses committed by Megaupload and its employees warrant extradition under the treaty in place between the U.S. and New Zealand.

However, the copyright angle was also widely discussed. Dotcom’s lawyer highlighted that Megaupload was an Internet service provider. ISPs enjoy safe harbor protection and can’t be held criminally liable for copyright infringement.

The High Court will have to make a crucial decision on this issue, he added, which will determine if Internet service providers can be held criminally liable for user generated content. This is crucial to other ISPs but also the public at large.

“Ever since the printing press, the resultant copyright acts have achieved a careful balance between the competing interests of the content holder, new technologies that can be used to copy and the user,” Mansfield said.

“The US is seeking through this proceeding to change the historical and existing obligation imposed by the protection of copyright from the content holder on to a new technology, the ISP.”

To reach a conclusion, the court will have to consider what ISPs’ obligations are when it comes to user-uploaded and distributed works, as far as copyright is concerned.

“Do ISPs have a legal obligation to investigate and enforce copyright infringement, criminal or civil, by its users?” Mansfield questioned.

“Ultimately, are ISPs responsible for user generated content? And, if so, how might that impact on the careful balance achieved by Parliament through the Copyright Act?” he added.

Even if the court disagrees that Megaupload and its employees are not liable for copyright infringement, the extradition request should be denied on the basis that copyright infringement is not an extraditable offense under the U.S. / New Zealand treaty.

“There is no extradition offense under the US-NZ Treaty because….the essence of the conduct is the communication of copyright-protected works through the Internet,” Mansfield said.

Primary submission


The hearing was just the first day for Dotcom’s lawyer, and many more will follow. The prosecution is likely to disagree with many points and while offering counter-argument, a process that’s expected to continue for several weeks.

Kim Dotcom is aware of the stakes but is confident that the appeal will lead to a positive outcome.

“I can’t see how any impartial judge can extradite me. The law is just simply completely on our side. There is not even space for interpretation. That’s how clear the law is,” Dotcom tells TorrentFreak.

“But it’s a political case and there is a lot at stake for people in power. If I win they will fall as a result,” he concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Kim Dotcom’s Extradition Appeal Gets Underway

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dotcom-extradition-appeal-gets-underway-160829/

kim-courtIn 2012, Megaupload was shut down in a massive international operation. At the time the file-storage site had been one of the most-visited on the planet with around 100 million users.

U.S. authorities subsequently claimed that Megaupload illegally generated more than US$175 million and cost copyright owners more than $0.5bn in lost business.

The former operators of Megaupload – Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk – insist that their business was a completely legal cloud storage platform so any infringement carried out by their users was not their responsibility. They are all fighting their cases from New Zealand where they are residents.

Last December, after almost ten weeks of hearings, District Court Judge Nevin Dawson found there was an “overwhelming” case for Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, to be extradited to the United States. There they face decades in jail on various charges including copyright infringement, money laundering, and racketeering.

Today, around a dozen lawyers were present in New Zealand’s High Court as Dotcom and his former colleagues mounted a formal appeal of last year’s extradition decision. The trio say that Judge Nevin Dawson didn’t give them a fair hearing.

The appeal is expected to last six to eight weeks but it began without Dotcom in attendance. He arrived after the hearing began and sat at the back with girlfriend Elizabeth Donelly. NZ’s Radio Live reported that the Megaupload founder appeared “relaxed”.

While Dotcom was not presenting argument today his lawyer Ron Mansfield told the court that due to the unprecedented issues involved and the international interest in the case, the hearing should be live streamed.

Mansfield said that a complex case of this nature is unlikely to receive balanced reporting so a live stream could ensure that all information is made available for public scrutiny. That could be done via YouTube, he said, with a 10-minute delay to ensure any sensitive material could be withheld.

A decision on that request wasn’t made right away, however. Judge Murray Gilbert said that the streaming request had been submitted late so he wanted to give representatives from the media time to consider the request and make their submissions. As previously reported, the United States government is objecting to the application.

Public interest in the case is undoubtedly high. Dotcom has become somewhat of a celebrity locally in New Zealand and he has a huge profile online as a serial entrepreneur, privacy activist, and video gamer. Unsurprisingly the public gallery in the High Court was full, with one man reportedly standing outside waving a banner claiming that Dotcom’s persecution is part of a CIA conspiracy.

With Dotcom not expected to speak until later next week, the hearing began with representation from Grant Illingworth QC, the lawyer representing Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk.

Illingworth said that the hearing had been unfair since the United States had denied the defendants the opportunity to hire specialist US-based technology experts who could help to support their defense.

He said that the case against the former Megaupload operators “had gone off the rails” and their extradition should be halted since the District Court had shown “extraordinary disinterest” in their arguments at the earlier hearing.

“It’s like ships passing in the night with no radar — the judge simply did not engage with the arguments in a meaningful way,” Illingworth said.

Pointing to alleged breaches of conduct by U.S. authorities, Illingworth
said that a situation of urgency had been manufactured in order to achieve procedural shortcuts.

There had been a “covering up” of unlawful activities preceding the arrests in 2012 and “downstream attempts to cover that up including a police officer giving incorrect information to this court, [and] unlawfully sending clones of hard drives overseas.”

Arguments for Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk are expected to take around eight days but the whole process is forecast to be a drawn-out affair. In the District Court the extradition hearing was supposed to take four weeks but actually took ten.

This time around the actions of the District Court will be picked over in fine detail, concentrating closely on numerous matters of law.

The United States Department of Justice isn’t expected to begin its arguments for another three weeks or so.

The hearing continues tomorrow but it’s unlikely that any final decision will arrive even this year. Dotcom and his rivals in the US both seem prepared to take this battle all the way to the Supreme Court in New Zealand if necessary. That could take years.

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