Video shows armed assault on Kim Dotcom family home
Two helicopters, armed police and dogs used in arrest
A New Zealand court has been shown footage of the 20 January dawn assault by police and the FBI on the home of Kim Dotcom, owner of the Megaupload file storage site.
Dotcom and his co-accused – Mathias Ortmann, Fin Batato and Bram Van der Kolk – face charges of international copyright infringement related to content hosted on various servers across the world. The FBI's indictment also accused the men of using Megaupload and its affiliated sites to make cash from pirated movies and games. Dotcom has denied any wrongdoing.
The hearing was part of an attempt by to overturn a finding by a New Zealand High Court judge that invalid search warrants were used during the property seizures in the January raid.
The court heard yesterday that the portly German (and sometime singer), his wife, three children and a few house guests were woken up at 6:47am by a helicopter landing in the front drive, which disgorged four members of New Zealand's special tactics group armed with assault rifles and handguns who broke down the front door.
Meanwhile four vanloads of similarly armed police and FBI agents, along with a dog squad, arrived at the house by road and overwhelmed the security guard at the gate. Dotcom told the court he was in bed at the time and pressed a panic button, which alerted the other security guard and guests there was a problem, and retreated to a "red room," accessed via a secret door in his closet.
In testimony Dotcom said that he didn't want to go and meet the police in case they accidentally shot him, so he retreated but didn't lock the door. Despite the police having full schematics for the house, it took 13 minutes for them to find him. Dotcom says that he greeted the police with his hands up (they claimed he was armed with a shotgun at the time) and was kicked to the ground and held down.
Dotcom was told that the justification for the heavy-handed raid was to ensure that he, or other members of his company who were staying with him, didn’t try to alter server logs or destroy evidence. He said this was impossible, since the FBI had already seized his servers and disabled them.
After reliving the raid in the court room I am angry. So many lies. There was no justification for this! All just a big show for the US!— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) August 8, 2012
When questioned in court the police witness admitted the raid might have been a little "over the top," and said force had been used against Dotcom. None of the officers bothered to wear full body armor, since they were told they would not need it, but still carried out the assault using Colt Commando M4 rifles - loaded and capable of firing 700 rounds per minute - and attack dogs. It's a bit much for what is essentially a copyright dispute.
The arrest and trial of Kim Dotcom and his fellow Megaupload members was, at the time, touted by the FBI and police as a major blow to online piracy and an all-round good thing. However, the subsequent extradition hearings have been described as a farce and are causing red faces among law enforcement.
The case has seen doubts cast of the validity of the paperwork in the case against Dotcom meaning the arrest warrants are invalid, the news that the FBI illegally took evidence out of the country after the raid, and the resignation of the presiding judge after he commented that "we have met the enemy, and he is the US." ®