Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

A win for Dotcom over seized property

Kim Dotcom. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Kim Dotcom. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Police have been ordered to release back to Kim Dotcom clones of computers and electronic devices seized in 2012 from his Coatesville mansion.

The Court of Appeal ruled in February this year that search warrants of Dotcom's multimillion-dollar property, and the home of his computer programmer Bram van der Kolk, executed at the request of the United States Department of Justice which is seeking to extradite them on online piracy charges, was legal.

But it found that the seizure of electronic items including laptops, computers, portable hard drives, flash storage devices and servers, was unauthorised.

It upheld a High Court declaration that the decision to allow police to give cloned copies of information harvested from the devices to the FBI without direction from the Solicitor-General wasn't authorised and was unlawful.

Now, the Court of Appeal has ruled that New Zealand Police "must as soon as reasonably practicable" release clones of any device back to Dotcom and his co-accused.

The clones must also be free from encrypted material, according to the judgment released today. Dotcom, van der Kolk and co-accused Finn Batato and Mathias Ortmann are all defending charges of mass copyright infringement, online piracy, and money laundering and are facing extradition proceedings next February.

At a Court of Appeal hearing on August 14, the four accused raised concerns that they have not yet been provided with clones of all the electronic devices seized from them by police on January 20, 2012.

Today's judgement says police must release the clones immediately.

It adds that encryption codes may only be provided to two nominated and named New Zealand police officers who must provide a written undertaking that they will "maintain the confidentiality of any and all encryption codes provided to me; will not transmit the encryption codes electronically; and will not disclose the encryption codes to any other person or any other party, and in particular to any representative of the Government of the United States of America".

The judgement also says that the clones release can be done in tranches, if that will speed the process up.

Either party can also apply to the Court of Appeal at short notice if further orders are necessary.

- APNZ

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