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19 Feb, 2014 08:21

Raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion ruled legal by NZ court

Raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion ruled legal by NZ court

An Appeals Court has ruled the search warrants used to raid Kim Dotcom’s New Zealand mansion were legal. The decision is a setback in Dotcom’s battle against extradition to the US, where he is wanted for copyright charges in connection with MegaUpload.

This latest ruling by the Appeals Court has overturned a previous decision by High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann, who deemed that the search warrant issued in 2012 was not sufficiently specific and illegal.

The new ruling argues that the search warrants were reasonable and it was obvious, given Dotcom’s background, what they pertained to.

“This view is reinforced by the fact that Mr. Dotcom was a computer expert who would have understood without any difficulty the references in the search warrant to his companies ... and the description of the various categories of electronic items,” the judges wrote in a 44-page ruling.

The court harked back to comments made by the internet tycoon’s lawyer Paul Davison that Dotcom's “life and soul is on his computer.”

The warrants were issued in 2012 after the US issued an indictment against Dotcom for charges of copyright and racketeering in connection with his file-sharing site MegaUpload. The search warrants paved the way for an armed raid on Kim Dotcom’s home in Auckland where officers seized millions of dollars in cash and over 135 electronic items, including hard drives and laptops.

Court ruling: The only party found to have committed piracy in the #Megaupload case: The FBI. Shipping my hard drives unlawfully to the US.

— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) February 19, 2014

While the Appeals Court ruled that the warrants were justified, it said that there were “defects.” In this way the court upheld a previous ruling, stating that prosecutors should not have been authorized to send clones of Dotcom’s electronic equipment

“The defects in these warrants were therefore not so radical as to require them to be treated as nullities,” said the ruling.

The court’s decision has dealt a significant blow to Dotcom’s campaign against extradition to the US. His legal team told press following the decision that they would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

The ruling may also have a knock-on effect on a separate case where Dotcom is seeking damages from the New Zealand government for the 2012 raid on his home.

Our @KimDotcom legal team is reviewing the rulings made by the Court of Appeal and will likely seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court

— Ira Rothken (@rothken) February 19, 2014

US authorities maintain that the German-born founder of MegaUploads cost Hollywood studios and other copyright holders $500 million through revenues lost to his website. Dotcom insists he is innocent and that MegaUploads was protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

If convicted, Dotcom could face a jail sentence of up to 20 years.

Dotcom is currently free on bail in New Zealand pending his extradition hearing which has been scheduled for this July.