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Dotcom Wins Release of Seized Computers in New Zealand

Kim Dotcom, founder of the cloud-storage service that the U.S. shut down on copyright infringement charges, won the release of some computers and data seized by New Zealand police.

New Zealand High Court Justice Helen Winkelmann had ruled that police used illegal search warrants in a January 2012 raid on Dotcom’s home. The judge today rejected police claims that the breaches were technical and it would be too difficult and expensive to return and give Dotcom access to the seized computers and data.

“The deficiencies in the warrants and, as a consequence, the searches, were more than merely technical,” Winkelmann wrote in today’s ruling. “The plaintiffs are entitled to relief that places them, if only roughly, in the position in which they would have been if the searches had been conducted pursuant to a valid warrant.”

Dotcom, 39, was indicted in January last year in Virginia on charges of racketeering, money laundering, copyright infringement and wire fraud through the Megaupload website, with the U.S. calling it the biggest copyright infringement case in the country’s history. The Internet entrepreneur is scheduled in August to face an extradition hearing to the U.S. from New Zealand, where he is a resident.

Police used helicopters and a police assault team during a raid on Dotcom’s home in a suburb of Auckland, seizing 18 luxury vehicles, including a 1959 pink Cadillac, art, cash, computers and hard drives.

‘Miscarriage of Justice’

“A miscarriage of justice did result,” Winkelmann wrote in today’s ruling.

The judge said removal of cloned data from New Zealand to the U.S. was illegal and ordered the police to ask U.S. authorities to destroy material that’s not relevant to the alleged crimes.

Items in New Zealand must be reviewed by police at their cost and irrelevant material returned to Dotcom, the judge said. None of the items in New Zealand is allowed to leave the country, she said.

While police can retain storage devices containing a mix of relevant and irrelevant data they should provide a clone of those devices to Dotcom, the judge said.

The New Zealand case is between Kim Dotcom and Attorney General. CIV2012-404-001928. High Court of New Zealand (Auckland). The U.S. case is: USA v. Dotcom. 12-cr-00003. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

-- Editors: Garry Smith, Lena Lee

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