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Megaupload’s Dotcom Wins Release on Bail in New Zealand

The U.S. government has formally asked New Zealand to extradite founder Kim Dotcom, who was indicted in Virginia on charges of involvement in the country’s biggest copyright infringement conspiracy.

The extradition papers for Dotcom; Finn Batato, the chief marketing officer at Megaupload; Mathias Ortmann, co-founder and director of the file-sharing website; and Bram van der Kolk, who oversaw programming at the website, were received at the North Shore District Court near Auckland on March 2, said Magila Annandale, a New Zealand Ministry of Justice spokeswoman.

Dotcom ran a “Mega Conspiracy,” U.S. prosecutors said in a Feb. 17 revised indictment filed in a court in Alexandria, Virginia, accusing him of generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated film, music, book and software files. He faces as long as 20 years in prison for each of the racketeering and money-laundering charges in the indictment.

The U.S. extradition papers weren’t immediately available from the North Shore District Court. A judge has to approve requests from people not involved in the case for access to files after receiving a written application and obtaining views of all parties in the matter, Annandale said in an e-mail today.

Dotcom, 38, was also charged in the U.S. with five counts of criminal copyright infringement and five counts of wire fraud. The defendant, who legally changed his family name from Schmitz, has denied any criminal misconduct.

He was released from jail on Feb. 22 over objections from the U.S., after Judge N.R. Dawson ruled he wasn’t a flight risk. Dotcom is restricted to his rented $18 million mansion and subject to electronic monitoring, according to the bail conditions.

An extradition hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 20.

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