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23 Dec, 2015 02:04

Kim Dotcom eligible for extradition to US, New Zealand court rules

New Zealand-based internet millionaire and Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his business partners are eligible for extradition to the US to face charges of copyright infringement on a massive scale, the court has ruled citing “overwhelming” evidence.

Auckland District Court judge Nevin Dawson said there was an “overwhelming” amount of evidence that all the defendants should be surrendered to the US, the New Zealand Herald reported. The defendants now have 15 days to appeal the ruling.

“Justice was not served today,” attorney Ira Rothken of Dotcom’s defense team said on Twitter, confirming their plans to appeal both the decision and the US extradition request in the High Court.

The prosecution did not oppose bail following the new developments, but insisted that the men should be ordered to report to probation every day.

In an interview with RT, Ira Rothken stressed that they disagree with the decision and also noted that the premise of Dotcom’s extradition is “weak” from a legal perspective.

“We think that the district court didn’t do an adequate job of doing the analysis,” he said, adding that “the basis for extradition is something called dual criminality and we don’t think that what happened was illegal in the US or in New Zealand.”

The prosecution was “cherry-picking various facts” in order to get a guilty verdict, the lawyer said.

Rothken has, however, expressed hope that the court of appeal will acquit his client.

“It’s Christmas. Let's see what Santa has in store,” Dotcom told journalists upon his arrival in court for the decision which comes after two months of hearings.

Dotcom and his three partners – Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato – are facing fraud, copyright infringement and money laundering among a total of 13 charges.

The United States claims that Megaupload was used as a type of online storage drive for material violating copyright laws on “massive scale.” The service constituted 4 percent of the internet’s entire traffic, attracting 50 million daily visitors at the time.

The prosecution claimed that Dotcom used a large portion of its revenues to reward users, drawing more traffic to the platform by publishing copyright-infringing material. The site made $25 million from advertisers, while its main source of revenue were small payments from the millions of users, which totaled some $150 million.

The defense argued that Megaupload is first and foremost an internet service provider, which means that it’s protected by safe harbor provisions under the Copyright Act. Dotcom’s himself explained that Megaupload was simply a “dream idea” created to counteract the problem of slow attachment-sharing over email, and that it was always, he said, “copyright neutral.”