Kim Dotcom extradition ruling upheld in New Zealand court

20 Feb 2017

Image: Africa Studios

Kim Dotcom’s efforts to avoid his extradition to the US received a blow after a New Zealand high court upheld an earlier ruling that such a move could be carried out – but it’s complicated.

After file-sharing site Megaupload was shut down by the FBI in 2012, Kim Dotcom, one of the site’s operators, was firmly in US authorities’ crosshairs.

But after seizing millions of dollars of assets and raiding Dotcom’s home, US officials were frustrated in their attempts to get the New Zealand resident and his colleagues onto US shores to face charges.

Dotcom is fighting the extradition through New Zealand courts, however today’s ruling (20 February) means that appearing in the US is nearing a reality.

The high court found that extradition was allowed, though this is sure to be appealed right up to the New Zealand supreme court.

In a bit of a twist, Dotcom and his co-accused – Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato – did have some reason to celebrate.

Justice Murray Gilbert found that making copyright works available to download is not criminalised under the New Zealand Copyright Act. However, according to Gilbert, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement “amounts to a conspiracy to defraud”.

This is what constitutes an extradition offence under the US-New Zealand Treaty.

“To win the major plank of the case but to get that outcome is extremely disappointing,” said Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield.

“It is hard to accept the logic that if the conduct that all accept, at its heart, relates to assertions of breach of copyright … it can nonetheless be massaged into a general fraud offence.”

The charges, totalling 13, include copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic