Megaupload's Kim Dotcom will stay in jail
Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz, was arrested on January 20 for a series of charges stemming to his involvement with file-sharing site Megaupload. American authorities insist that the 6’6”, 285-pound (2 meters, 130 kg) German national will disappear if freed from behind bars before his scheduled trial. As a result, a New Zealand court has now denied an appeal that comes after already being denied bail twice.
Along with several other suspected Megaupload affiliates, international authorities are attempting to develop a case against Dotcom and his site, attesting that its administrators orchestrated an elaborate online conspiracy to personally profit handsomely while duping copyright holders inside the music and movies industry out of millions. The raid on his New Zealand mansion last month and the subsequent shut-down of Megaupload.com has caused mass outrage online from opponents who believe that the US has not only overstepped their boundaries by trying to bring Dotcom to American court, but that federal agents are attempting to end Internet freedoms around the globe.
While considered by no-means a career criminal — or of imminent danger to anyone — the New Zealand court has once again refused to release Dotcom on any conditions as he awaits trial.
"The judge correctly concluded that the risk of flight cannot be mitigated by the imposition of conditions, including electronic monitoring," prosecutor Anne Toohey said Friday.
In his own defense, Dotcom declares that he will abide by any restrictions as long as he is allowed to be with his family while awaiting trial.
"I will not run away. I want to fight these allegations on a level playing field. I have three little children. My wife is pregnant with twins. I just want to be with them," he told the court.
Despite these pleas, he currently is expected to remain behind bars until February 22, at which point authorities will begin hearings in hopes of extraditing Dotcom to America. Although he resides half-a-world away, American agents want to impose a jail sentence and fines on Dotcom in the US for operating a site — outside of the US — that allowed American users to download pirated material.
Authorities insist that by operating Megaupload, the entertainment industry missed out on $500 million in profits. At one point accounting for roughly 4 percent of all online traffic, however, Megaupload has also implemented file-storage services that were legitimately used by international audiences for sharing and saving personal and private documents.
“The legal battles between the government and Megaupload are unlikely to end soon. In the meantime, however, many ordinary users of Megaupload’s services have been swept up in the government’s dragnet, and, as a consequence, have lost access to their own data,” reads a statement offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation earlier this week.
Citing the government-imposed blockade that has kept millions of paid and unpaid subscribers of Megaupload from accessing their own material, the EFF writes that “The government should try to avoid this kind of collateral damage, not create it.”