Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Dotcom ready to fight on eve of extradition appeal

Kim Dotcom appearing in Auckland District Court for the decision on his extradition. Photo / Nick Reed
Kim Dotcom appearing in Auckland District Court for the decision on his extradition. Photo / Nick Reed

Kim Dotcom is back in court on Monday for the next round of his fight to avoid extradition to the United States - with his lawyer vowing the internet tycoon will exhaust every legal avenue to remain in New Zealand.

Dotcom and his co-accused, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato, were deemed eligible for extradition to the US to face copyright charges by Judge Nevin Dawson just before Christmas. They appealed the ruling immediately.

The best part of a year later, the hearing has rolled around - with the world expected to tune in for the next instalment in a saga which has been allocated eight weeks before the High Court at Auckland.

Dotcom's lawyer, Ira Rothken, jetted to New Zealand on Thursday afternoon. He told the Herald on Sunday his client is in good spirits and ready to continue the fight over the next few weeks - and for and as long as it takes beyond that.

"Kim is excellent, under what are typically stressful circumstances for a defendant - particularly a defendant in the largest criminal copyright case in history," Rothken said. "He is doing what he can to persist in his defence and also continue to be a great father and to be an entrepreneur - under circumstances where many other folks would go into a hole.

"We believe that the law is heavily on the side of Kim Dotcom and the others and we look forward to the court listening to the different arguments and making a ruling. We believe if we have a fair hearing and the court has the opportunity to hear all of the legal arguments and analyse them, they will rule in favour of Kim and the others."

The group was charged by the US Government in 2012 of conspiracy to operate websites used to illegally distribute copyrighted material via Dotcom's Megaupload website. They all maintain they are innocent.

If Dotcom does overturn December's District Court verdict and wipes out the decision to make him eligible for extradition to the US, it was expected the Crown would launch an appeal of its own.

If Dotcom fails, the lengthy legal scrap - and Dotcom's ability to remain in New Zealand - will probably still be years from reaching a conclusion, with the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court still options for Dotcom's defence.

"[If he loses] It will mean that he will have to go ahead and take his case to the New Zealand Court of Appeal and argue it there," Rothken said.

"Kim's a fighter. These issues are important not only for his well-being but society and the health of the internet and he's going to continue defending what is right here, what is just. Even if it means that he has to go to New Zealand's Supreme Court."

The defence case is expected to hinge heavily on whether an internet service provider can be held criminally responsible for the actions of its users.

"In addition, in New Zealand there is no criminal copyright infringement that would be applicable to the allegations in this case," Rothken said.

"This is a hearing that is not only important for Kim Dotcom but for all New Zealanders, and for that matter, everyone who has a stake in the internet globally."

Dotcom is also trying to have the court sessions streamed live on the internet.

The story dates back to 2012 and a raid on the Coatesville mansion Dotcom was living in at the time.

United States authorities had charged Dotcom and others with particular offences, including money laundering and criminal breach of copyright. Through New Zealand police, US authorities sought and obtained warrants to search for and seize material, including computers, relevant to the alleged offending.

Dotcom and his co-accused appealed the legality of the raid. In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled it was done legally.

In an eventful period since, Dotcom has revealed plans to relaunch his Megaupload file-sharing website in January next year - after the US Government took it down over piracy claims.

Despite hefty legal bills, Dotcom was still able to produce a music album in 2014's called Good Times. The album featured a song called Good Life - which Dotcom made a lavish music video for, the cost of which he estimated at $24 million.

Dotcom also had a fling with politics and founded the Internet Party which contested the 2014 general election in a failed alliance with the Mana Movement.

- Herald on Sunday

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