New Zealand court upholds search warrants on Kim Dotcom

The appeal court, however, ruled that the sending of copies of data seized to the U.S. was unauthorized

A court in New Zealand has ruled that warrants used to search the homes of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his colleague Bram van der Kolk were valid, but objected to the removal to the U.S. by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of copies of the electronic items seized.

The Court of Appeal of New Zealand ruled Wednesday that the warrants were defective in some respects, but the defects were not sufficient to treat them as "nullities."

A ruling against the validity of the warrants would have made it harder for the U.S. bid to extradite Dotcom, van der Kolk and two other colleagues to face charges in the U.S., as the evidence collected could have been called into question.

Dotcom and colleagues, and two companies including file-sharing site Megaupload, were indicted by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia in January 2012, and charged with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement and money laundering, and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Jan. 20, 2012 the New Zealand police searched the homes of Dotcom and van der Kolk and seized more than 135 electronic items, including laptops, computers, portable hard drives, flash storage devices and servers, containing an estimated 150 terabytes of data, according to court records. The police also obtained warrants for the arrest of Dotcom and his three associates and they were arrested at the same time.

The search warrants were obtained at the request of the U.S. DOJ, which is seeking the extradition of Dotcom, van der Kolk and two other associates to face the charges of copyright infringement and money laundering in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The respondents successfully challenged the validity of the search warrants and the removal of the clones from New Zealand in the High Court, which ruled that the warrants were invalid because they were not in sufficiently specific terms and that the removal of the clones of the data to the U.S. was in breach of directions.

Dotcom and the other respondents would have understood the nature and scope of the warrants, especially in light of their arrest warrants, which were not defective, and the explanations given to them by the police when the properties were searched, the appeal court ruled.

However, the sending of copies of electronic data seized at the homes was not authorized, as on Feb. 16, 2012 the solicitor-general directed the Commissioner of Police under that the items seized during the searches were to remain in the "custody and control" of the commissioner until further direction.

"Notwithstanding the Solicitor-General's direction, forensic clones of some of the electronic items seized during the searches were made by the FBI and taken by the FBI back to the United States in March 2012," the court observed.

The appeal court did not, however, provide any directions as to the return of the material provided to the FBI.

Dotcom's lawyer Ira Rothken said in a message on Twitter that the "legal team is reviewing the rulings made by the Court of Appeal and will likely seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags U.S. Federal Bureau of InvestigationInternet-based applications and servicesmegauploadintellectual propertycopyrightCourt of Appeal of New Zealandlegalinternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?