Kim Dotcom slams 'dirty ugly bully' Uncle Sam as extradition hearing ends
It only took nine weeks
The extradition hearing of rotund web baron Kim Dotcom finally ended Tuesday, having taken three times longer than expected.
Tweeting on the last day of the ten-week hearing in Auckland, New Zealand, Dotcom railed: "My defense team has shown how utterly unreliable, malicious, and unethical the US case against me is. They have exposed a dirty ugly bully."
Dotcom wasn't in court for the final day, having limped out the previous day with back pain, but despite a stream of sarcastic and mocking tweets throughout the process, the odds could not be higher for him and three colleagues of the Megaupload file storing service.
If Judge Nevin Dawson decides in the next few weeks that there is a sufficiently strong case against them, the four men will be extradited to the United States. They would face charges of fraud, racketeering, and money laundering that could bring with them a 20-year jail sentence.
That day is likely to be some way off, however. Judge Dawson is expected to take a few weeks to deliver his verdict and then it is a virtual certainty that it will be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Despite having had many of his assets seized, Dotcom has been able to hire a team of top lawyers that have delayed efforts by US authorities to extradite him for three years. It could be several more years before Dotcom appears in a US court.
Summing up the New Zealand government's arguments, prosecutor Christine Gordon told the judge that it was a case of "simple fraud."
Megaupload made US$175m, according to the US government: $25m in advertising on its hugely popular website that attracted 50 million daily users, and $150m from its users who paid for storage space and fast downloads.
Gordon argued that the sort of mass copyright infringement that sites like Megaupload allow for have a knock-on impact on box office prices and that some companies "may choose to stop making films altogether."
The problem is that copyright infringement is not an extraditable offense in New Zealand, so the prosecutors have been forced to argue the point that when the current laws were written they did not foresee the rise of the internet. It is also why Gordon has argued that the case is one of fraud rather than solely copyright infringement.
The defense meanwhile argued that the Megaupload site was "copyright neutral" and that comments of Dotcom's team that were used to paint them as knowingly profiting from illegal copies of music and movies were taken out of context.
One damning comment came, allegedly, from one of the defendants, Bram van der Kolk. According to the Crown, he said: "If copyright holders would really know how big our business is they'd surely try to do something against it. They have no idea we are making millions in profit every month."
The defense also warned that if the judge does choose to extradite Dotcom, Matthias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato, it would have wider repercussions, moving a civil matter into the criminal sphere.
Megaupload was an ISP, defense lawyer Ron Mansfield argued, and was protected by safe harbor provisions. So if the judge overrules that provision, it would force ISPs to consider possible criminal liability for their users' actions.
The hearing itself went on six weeks longer than planned and has been closely followed by the media, leading to numerous side stories courtesy of the attention-grabbing Dotcom.
He started the hearing by rolling up in his giant black Mercedes SUV with the license plate "KIM.COM." He had his own special ergonomic chair in the court room. At one point, an ex-Playboy model appeared on the scene claiming that Kim has begged her to marry him, and provided private text messages to prove her story. Kim said it was a joke.
There was also some drama in the case itself with the prosecution accused of trying to "ambush" Dotcom by introducing new evidence on the penultimate day of the hearing.
Meanwhile, for those interested in Dotcom's views on candidates for president of the country that he might end up spending a few years living in, his Twitter feed is full of insights. Short version: he's pro Bernie and anti Trump. ®
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