Only man convicted in Megaupload case felt pressured to admit guilt

Kim Dotcom says he sent money to help Andrus Nomm, the only person convicted in the Megaupload trials. Photo / File
Kim Dotcom says he sent money to help Andrus Nomm, the only person convicted in the Megaupload trials. Photo / File

The only man who has served time in the Megaupload case believes he was made an example of as a warning to all IT people, and regrets working for Kim Dotcom.

In his first interview, Megaupload software developer Andrus Nomm, who was convicted for copyright infringement, has spoken candidly about the cost of helping Mr Dotcom build his internet empire and how he felt deserted by his co-accused who flaunted their lavish lifestyle in New Zealand while he was left penniless.

Nomm spent a year in jail at Moshannon Valley Prison in Pennsylvania, but has now returned to his home in Izmir, Turkey where he lives with his wife and son.

In the wide-ranging interview, first published in Estonion weekly Eesti Ekspress and translated on technology website Ars Technica, the father-of-one revealed he wished he had been more discerning.

"I was a bit blind before. It cost me several years of my life. I learned a lot of new things while working in Megaupload. I met some brilliantly clever people."

Mr Nomm believed he should never have been charged.

He claimed the FBI pressured him, telling him he would not stand a chance in a court if he was extradited to the United States.

"The Americans confirmed that they had strong evidence against me, and that I didn't stand a chance. They claimed that I had either uploaded or downloaded some sort of illegal movie in Megaupload. Since I programmed the video converter system for the site, I downloaded and uploaded files constantly without watching them.

"They wanted me to confess to knowing that Megaupload was earning big money from illegal movies."

For the sake of his family he voluntarily travelled to the United States and entered a guilty plea.

"I chose a shortened procedure. I pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement and made an agreement with the prosecutors to sit in prison for a year. All the bigger accusations, such as money laundering, dropped away since I wasn't the owner of the company.

"I also had to sign my name to all of the evidence that had already been collected, for example, to the fact that Megaupload ignored complaints from time to time and did not remove illegal content fast enough. I had to be made an example of as a warning to all IT people who were intending to work in similar companies."

Mr Nomm said everybody except co-accused Bram van der Kolk appeared to desert him during his hour of need.

"His parents transferred some money to me. I don't know who was actually behind the transfer," he said.

Mr Dotcom told the Herald he was the one who transferred the money, but that he hadn't wanted Mr Nomm to know it came from him.

"Despite legal advice to the contrary I supported Andrus financially, helping him out when he was destitute because the US government froze all of his assets.

"I did not let Andrus know that the funds came from me."

Mr Dotcom also tweeted a similar message on social media, saying he dipped into his own pockets to send ?20,000 ($31,434) to Mr van der Kolk's parents for Mr Nomm.

Mr Dotcom said the two spoke infrequently and Mr Nomm did not know him well enough to make the character judgments he did in the interview.

"Andrus pointed out in his interview that we spoke 3-4 times per year at best. I treated him fair and with respect and as Andrus said himself, Megaupload paid him a good salary."

Despite refuting Mr Nomm's claims about his character, Mr Dotcom said he could understand his actions and sympathised with the IT worker's frustration.

"I can understand why Andrus did what he did. Why he is frustrated and why he is attacking me. I was the founder of Megaupload and I hired him.

"But he knows very well that he has done nothing wrong. He made that very clear in an interview he did after the raid. I think everyone should have a look at it to understand how the US government broke Andrus into submission."

The internet mogul, Mathias Ortmann, van der Kolk and Finn Batato are engaged in a legal battle to avert extradition to the United States.

The next hearing is in the High Court at Auckland in August and Mr Dotcom told the Herald he was confident it would go well.

"We are going to succeed here in New Zealand. We won't get extradited because there is no legal basis for extradition," he said.

"The other defendants, including myself, are prepared to fight as long as necessary to prevail. We won't give up. And we will prevail because we have done nothing wrong."


- NZ Herald

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