Kim Dotcom, the former founder of defunct file hosting service Megaupload and its successor Mega, just lost another court battle to avoid extradition to the US on charges of copyright infringement and fraud.
Per the BBC, Dotcom lost an appeals court decision on Wednesday in New Zealand, where he has lived since 2008 and was infamously raided by heavily armed tactical teams acting on the orders of US prosecutors in 2012. Dotcom and three other co-accused operators of the site, Mattias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, and Finn Batato, have had various luck defending themselves in court against US claims Megaupload caused over $500 million (£377 million) in damages to copyright holders including record companies and film studios. But the BBC writes that after an unfavourable Court of Appeal ruling, they are now down to their last attempt at an appeal:
Mr Dotcom and his co-accused have consistently denied the US charges.
It is now up to New Zealand’s Justice Minister Andrew Little to decide whether extradition should take place.
Mr Dotcom and his co-accused have one final legal option.
“We will seek review with the NZ Supreme Court,” his lawyer Ira Rothken tweeted.
In a prior ruling, a lower court found that the copyright infringement charges were not enough to warrant extradition as they are not criminal offences in New Zealand, but that the US could seek extradition over the charges of fraud. According to Reuters, the Court of Appeal noted that an extradition hearing does not determine guilt, merely whether there is “sufficient evidence to commit a person for trial on a qualifying offence.”
Dotcom is not exactly a sympathetic defendant—in addition to obsessively bragging about his lavish lifestyle, he’s spread far-right conspiracy theories, threatened to sue the families of murder victims, and released cringeworthy EDM albums—but his case does involve ominous government doings that could ultimately impact us all.
First, there’s the issue of the millions of dollars the US government took from him in a controversial procedure called civil asset forfeiture, which is where authorities take a suspected criminal’s money or possessions before they are ever convicted. Since Dotcom is not a US citizen, the dispute over the forfeitures involves whether the US can bully its way into seizing anyone’s assets, anywhere. Then, there’s also the question of whether what is happening to Dotcom is fair or being done at the behest of powerful commercial interests whose historical approach to copyright enforcement approached the tyrannic.
In any case, Dotcom and his three co-defendants may not end up in the US for some time, or possibly at all.