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December 23, 2015

New Zealand Judge Rules Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited To U.S.

AUCKLAND, New Zealand—Kim Dotcom, the man who created Megaupload.com, can be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of copyright infringement and money laundering, a a judge in New Zealand ruled. The ruling Wednesday also allowed for three of Dotcom’s colleagues to be extradited. Dotcom’s attorneys have appealed the ruling. Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz in Germany, formed the Hong Kong-based Megaupload Ltd. in 2005. The company operated online services related to file storage and viewing, including Megaupload.com, Megalive.com and Megaporn.com. The U.S. Department of Justice seized the domain names and associated sites on Jan. 19, 2012, after Dotcom and others were indicted and arrested for the copyright infringement and money laundering charges. At that time, the Customs and Excise Department of Hong Kong seized $42 million in assets from the company. Dotcom, who is a New Zealand resident, has denied any wrongdoing, and claims he cannot be held responsible for parties who used his sites to illegally upload and share copyrighted materials. “Megaupload databases revealed that nearly every large corporation, organization and government used Megaupload—from the U.S. Congress to folks in Hollywood,” a statement on the website Kim.com, Dotcom’s website, reads. “Of course, millions of individual users used Megaupload as well.” A formal request for Dotcom and the others to be extradited was filed in a New Zealand court in March, 2012, while the men were free on bail. A ruling was delayed after a New Zealand High Court judge ruled the U.S. needed to provide evidence of “internet piracy” before the men could be extradited. After various other delays, the ruling allowing for the extradition was handed down today. U.S. prosecutors claim Megaupload.com allowed users to illegally download songs, TV shows, movies and porn, costing studios and record companies more than $500 million in revenue. “This is not the last word on the matter,” Dotcom told reporters as he left the court. “We have filed an appeal. I’m still on bail. And we will go through the whole process until the very end. I’m disappointed. But that’s all I have to say, and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” It was not immediately clear when the appeal on the ruling will be heard.

 
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