US files papers for Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom's extradition

Kim Dotcom's release on bail was upheld last week by a court in Auckland

U.S. prosecutors have filed papers seeking the extradition of Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload and three colleagues, who are charged in the U.S. with allegedly running a criminal enterprise responsible for online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works.

The extradition papers were received Friday at the North Shore District Court in Auckland, New Zealand, a spokeswoman for the country's Ministry of Justice said Monday. The court is not releasing the papers at this time.

On Wednesday, the High Court of New Zealand, Auckland Registry decided that Dotcom could stay free on bail, after government prosecutors acting on behalf of U.S. authorities appealed a Feb. 22 decision of the District Court to grant him bail.

The judge said that he understands that the extradition hearing will not take place until August, and observed that for Dotcom "to be incarcerated for another six months awaiting the extradition hearing, the risk of flight has to be a real one". The electronic monitoring of Dotcom which was one of his many bail conditions reduced the risk of flight, he said. "It essentially puts a perimeter around Mr. Dotcom’s home and if he breaches the perimeter then the authorities will know about it very shortly," he added.

The judge also accepted a submission by the counsel for Dotcom that remand in custody at this point would adversely affect Dotcom’s ability to properly prepare for the extradition hearing and instruct counsel.

The bail conditions require Dotcom to mostly stay at his rented mansion outside of Auckland except for medical emergencies, wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, and not use the Internet. His wife, who is pregnant with twins, and their three children also stay at the mansion.

Dotcom, who ran the Megaupload file-sharing website until it was shut down, was denied bail shortly after he was arrested on Jan. 20. The decision was upheld on Feb. 3 after he appealed.

 Dotcom then filed a second bail application based on new factual circumstances and was freed on Feb. 22.

Dotcom and colleagues, and two companies including Megaupload, were indicted by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 5, 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.

Dotcom and colleagues Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk were arrested in Auckland by New Zealand authorities, who executed provisional arrest warrants requested by the U.S.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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