Kim Dotcom, the German entrepreneur behind the closed-down website MegaUpload, is facing extradition from New Zealand to the US after New Zealand’s appeals court ruled that the search warrants used to justify the raid on his home were legal.
The decision overturned a June 2012 legal judgement that had invalidated the warrants and, hence, all the evidence that New Zealand police say they obtained to support the case for his extradition.
A panel of three judges found that the warrants were “defective in some respects” but not by enough to render them invalid. “This really was a case of error of expression.
The defects were defects in form not in substance,” the judges wrote in their 44-page written judgement. “No more items were seized than would have been without the defects in the search warrants.”
When police raided Dotcom’s mansion in January 2012, they took more than 135 items, including laptops, servers and PCs, and other storage devices – in total, the police took some 150 terabytes of data.
The raid was carried out at the request of the FBI, which wants to extradite Dotcom to the US to face charges that his MegaUpload service breached the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – despite the fact that Dotcom never operated on US territory.
The US authorities claim that Dotcom’s file-sharing site took more than $175m and cost copyright owners more than $500m.
If Dotcom and his co-accused fail in their extradition hearing scheduled for April, they will be sent to the US where they face charges of racketeering and money laundering, as well as breaching the DMCA.
However, Dotcom’s lawyers said that they would appeal to the Supreme Court over the judgement. Dotcom remained upbeat, tweeting: “Court ruling: The only party found to have committed piracy in the #Megaupload case: The FBI. Shipping my hard drives unlawfully to the US.”
Back in June 2012, Justice Helen Winkelmann had ruled that the warrants did not adequately describe the offences they related to and were therefore illegal. “They were general warrants and, as such, are invalid,” she ruled.
She added that because the scope of the search warrant was too broad, police were able to seize far more equipment than they ought to have been allowed to. Dotcom’s hard drives were also handed over by the New Zealand police to the FBI, which took them to the US and cloned them in order to build its extradition case against Dotcom.
This was also ruled invalid.