Judge: Kim Dotcom can be extradited

Kim Dotcom (Getty)
Kim Dotcom (Getty)

Kim Dotcom is set to appeal a District Court judge's decision that he and his co-accused are eligible to be extradited the United States to face copyright charges.

Just as soon as Judge Nevin Dawson handed down his decision today, Dotcom indicated he will challenge the ruling.

The prosecution argued for Dotcom and his co-accused Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk to have their bail conditions revoked. However, Judge Dawson declined the request and the group were bailed on their same conditions.

Dotcom, who was in the Auckland District Court this afternoon for the decision, showed no emotion, but sat with his hands clasped in front of him staring ahead.

Judge Dawson's decision does not mean Dotcom and his co-accused will be forced to leave New Zealand.

That decision is left for Justice Minister Amy Adams.

The group did have 15 days to appeal the decision, but Dotcom wasted no time in taking that route.

Judge Dawson delivered his decision to a packed courtroom, with several people forced to stand after all the seats were filled.

He declined applications by Dotcom's legal team for a stay of proceedings, and said he was satisfied there was a case to be answered by Dotcom and his co-accused.

The charges they faced were not trivial, he said.

As Judge Dawson announced his finding that all four men were eligible for surrender to the United States, two women in the public gallery began to cry.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the United States government did not oppose allowing the four men stay out on bail, but asked for an update to the conditions that would require them to check in with police each day.

Today's District Court decision comes after a 10-week-long extradition hearing, but the road to reach it was long and complicated.

Dotcom appeared in the lives of most ordinary New Zealanders in January 2012, following the now infamous raid on his mansion in the Auckland suburb of Coatesville.

He became a feature of New Zealand news in the fallout since then, including a number of unrelated endeavours and scandals.

This included a crack at politics during last year's general election, with the founding of the Internet Party and its ultimately doomed alliance with the Mana Movement, a new encrypted cloud storage venture, his so-called Moment of Truth about New Zealand's spying practices and an album.

Dotcom's time and money since the raid has been mostly tied up fighting copyright-related charges linked to his now defunct MegaUpload file-sharing website.

He and co-accused have fought every step of US authorities' attempts to extradite them to face charges that could see them jailed.

The extradition hearing finally started in the Auckland District Court in September this year, and had been scheduled for a month, though that timeframe has more than doubled.

But that hearing itself was hit with a last-minute application for a further delay – though that was ultimately declined.

The crux of the FBI's case contended the group was involved in an organised criminal enterprise centred on copyright violation through MegaUpload, which earned them US$175 million.

Judge Dawson didn't have to decide whether the four were guilty or not, only if they could be surrendered to the US to face charges there.

Dotcom decision

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