Barring no significant setback, controversial internet personality Kim Dotcom will probably find himself on a plane bound to the United States in shackles. This came after a New Zealand court found that there are sufficient grounds for his extradition.
The Megaupload founder, who is considered one of richest internet entrepreneurs, is charged with several crimes including money laundering, copyright infringement, and racketeering in the United States. Dotcom has so far maintained his innocence on these felonies, and he has been holed up in New Zealand fighting the U.S. extradition attempts.
Dotcom is now living in Auckland due to a specific statute in the country that does not consider the digital online distribution of copyrighted works and materials as a criminal offense.
The recent court ruling, on the other hand, maintained that the very act of conspiring to commit copyright infringement is tantamount to fraud. The bid to defraud is listed as one of the offenses that can be used to extradite an individual under a treaty between the United States and New Zealand.
Along with Dotcom, three other individuals were covered in the extradition judgment. Dotcom is expected to appeal the decision. It could even lead to a protracted legal tussle.
Procedure vs Merit
At this point, Dotcom is claiming victory despite the loss.
"The major part of this litigation has been won by this judgement — that copyright is not extraditable," Dotcom stated.
Dotcom claims that the court judgment is a political decision, noting how the New Zealand Copyright Law mandates that ISPs are not criminally liable for the actions of its users. It appears that he considers his activities as similar to internet providers.
Judgement: 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.
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) February 20, 2017
Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand back in January 2012 after he was indicted in the United States. A district court released him on bail, with the presiding judge ruling that Dotcom is no longer a significant flight risk. This came on the heels of the seizure of his assets. He was also denied access to his bank accounts worth $175 million.
Dotcom now claims that he is a pauper with the bulk of his funds frozen. He laments that cost of retaining an army of lawyers to block his legal tussle with the United States. Some observers believe that the latter seems bent on ensuring that the process is relegated as a war of attrition focusing on procedure rather than merit.