With a New Zealand District Court ruling on Wednesday that Kim Dotcom was eligible to be sent to the United States to face criminal charges, the internet tycoon has remained defiant and said he plans to fight the decision until the very end.
The internet entrepreneur has been battling extradition charges for almost four years, alongside his three co-accused Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, and Finn Batatohas. But in delivering his verdict on Wednesday, presiding Judge Nevin Dawson said all four men needed to be sent to the US to stand trial.
Following the decision, the state asked for the bail conditions of Dotcom and his co-accused to be made harsher, requiring a daily check-in.
But after protests from Dotcom’s lawyers, Dawson reduced the check-in time to twice a week.
For Dotcom, though, the story is far from over.
“This is not the last word on the matter,” a smiling Dotcom told a mob of journalists outside the Auckland District court on Wednesday.
“I’m still on bail, and we will go through the whole process until the end.”
He admitted he was disappointed, but still wished everyone a Merry Christmas before departing.
Dotcom, alongside Ortman, Batato, and van der Kolk have been battling extradition to the US where they are accused of running an elaborate criminal internet piracy conspiracy stemming from the now closed file storing website, Megaupload.
They face charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud, and two kinds of criminal copyright infringement based on an FBI investigation going back to 2010.
In 2012, US authorities shut down Megaupload and arrested its proprietors and Dotcom was dramatically arrested in a Hollywood-style raid on his Coatesville mansion.
In September, the tech mogul finally faced Auckland District Court with Christine Gordon QC saying at the time that when distractions are stripped away, the evidence boils down to a simple scheme of fraud.
During the trial, Gordon said a series of messages between the men showed they knew authorities would eventually come for them. In reply, Dotcom accused US authorities of deliberately mistranslating statements he made in German in order to create a case against him.
Dotcom’s lawyers had claimed the case was unfair and that the US had kept them from hiring experts by freezing their assets, amongst a number of other requests to drop the case altogether.
Although Dawson did not have to decide on the guilt of the men, only if they had legitimate charges to face in the US, he was not convinced, however, that the case was unfair.
“This court is satisfied none of the submissions made … come close to breaching the duty of candour and good faith,” he said.
The four had not come “anywhere near” to undermining the case, he added.
Their lawyers immediately said they would be appealing to the High Court and now have 15 days to lodge it in writing.
Due to the massive amount of evidence, Dawson gave Dotcom and his entourage until late February to get their case together.
The ruling means Justice Minister Amy Adams must now decide whether to extradite them.
In a statement she said she would wait to see if an appeal would be lodged before commenting.
During a 10-week extradition hearing, lawyers for the US argued the men had earned $175 million by running a website funded largely by revenue from publishing copyright-infringing files. They said the website had paid money for people to illegally upload copyright-infringing files and then charged others to watch them.
Dotcom’s lawyer, Ron Mansfield, said the website was protected by “dual-use” defences — just like video recorders — where a company could not be responsible for the illegal use of products with other legitimate purposes.
Throughout the three-and-a-half year wait for Dotcom, it was discussed that his foundation charge, copyright violation, was not a criminal offence in New Zealand, and under that proviso, it was said he could not be extradited to the US for that, highlighting the other two charges built on top needed to be sustained.
If eventually extradited and found guilty in the US, Dotcom, Ortman, Batato, and van der Kolkcould be up for decades in jail.
“Don’t you worry. Nobody is ruining our Christmas! All good,” Dotcom posted on Twitter after his hearing on Wednesday.
One for keeping himself busy in between court appearances, having previously toyed with politics with the Internet Party, Dotcom revealed in October that his latest brainchild Meganet is an alternate internet he said is safe, secure, and impenetrable by anyone, even government bodies.