Kim Dotcom, the Megaupload.com website founder accused of orchestrating the biggest copyright infringement conspiracy in U.S. history, had his extradition hearing in New Zealand delayed until next year.
The hearing, previously scheduled for next month in Auckland, was tentatively rescheduled for March 25, according to a summary of a July 6 teleconference published today by District Court Judge David Harvey.
Prosecutors and Dotcom’s lawyers agreed to the delay to allow for an appeal of a court ruling that warrants used by New Zealand police to search Dotcom’s home in January weren’t valid. Dotcom’s lawyers are also pressing for disclosure of the evidence the U.S. has against him and a decision on that request, which is pending, will probably be appealed as well, Harvey wrote.
“Those appeal hearings should be dealt with together before the Court of Appeal,” Harvey said. “It is recognized that the appeal process will take some time.”
Dotcom, 38, was indicted in what U.S. prosecutors dubbed a “mega conspiracy,” accusing his file-sharing website 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.
Dotcom complained about the delay in postings on Twitter today.
“Dirty delay tactics by the U.S.,” he wrote on the social media site. “They destroyed my business. Took all my assets. Time does the rest.”
Site Shut Down
The U.S. shut down Megaupload.com without notice after charges against seven individuals, including Dotcom, were unsealed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Jan. 19.
A Feb. 17 revised indictment includes racketeering, money laundering, copyright infringement and wire fraud charges.
The racketeering and money laundering charges carry maximum penalties of 20 years in prison while the copyright infringement charges have maximum five-year penalties.
Helen Winkelmann, the chief justice of the High Court of New Zealand, which is an intermediate court, had ruled warrants used by police to search Dotcom’s rented mansion on the outskirts of Auckland and to seize his property, including a pink Cadillac, were overly broad and invalid.
Winkelmann had ordered the New Zealand’s Attorney General to notify U.S. authorities of her decision and request the voluntary return of copies of Dotcom’s hard drives that were removed from New Zealand. She also ordered the return of all computer hardware to Dotcom that was seized by police and remains in New Zealand.
German-born Dotcom was arrested at his residence in late January and spent four weeks in jail before being released to await the extradition hearing. When police raided the mansion in Coatesville, north of Auckland, they seized 18 luxury vehicles, including a Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe and the 1959 pink Cadillac.
Dotcom’s bail will continue to March 25, Harvey said.
The case is between Kim Dotcom and Attorney-General. Civ 2012-404-1928. High Court of New Zealand (Auckland).