Last time we checked in with the crumbling prosecution of Megaupload, the massive cyber locker, and its similarly massive leader, Kim Dotcom, a New Zealand court had declared the search warrant served against Dotcom unconstitutional.
This week, the same judge has ruled that the United States government needs to let New Zealand see why exactly they want to extradite Dotcom. You know, so the country can decide if it’s really a good idea to turn over someone to a foreign government.
What a shocking request! Let’s keep reading to see the details of the ruling, as well as additional updates as to what Dotcom is doing to try to pay his lawyers, who thus far have not received a dime for their services….
Wired gives us the latest update:
The court ruled that Dotcom needs to see the evidence against him, otherwise his position in the extradition hearing would be “significantly constrained,” whereas the U.S. in turn would have “a significant advantage,” according to Judge Helen Winkelmann.
Dotcom has already had the original search warrant declared invalid, and both U.S. and New Zealand authorities were criticized by the court for their roles in sending copies of Dotcom’s seized hard drives to the U.S. via FedEx, without permission from the court.
Yep, leave it to the U.S. to pull crap like this: “Heyyyy there, New Zealand (or other small, inoffensive nation state), so we really need you to send this guy over to us across the ocean. He’s breaking the law, and we froze all his assets, so he can’t pay his lawyers.”
Other country: “But how, exactly, is this guy breaking the law? What evidence do you have, oy, mate, shrimp on the Barby?”
U.S.: “Don’t worry about it, just send him our way. We’ll take care of it.”
Small island nation: “Riiiight. Yeah, we can’t do that.”
U.S.: ::smolders silently::
Ira Rothken, Megaupload’s lead lawyer, has been talking up the latest victory:
“Justice Winkelmann ruled that the Bill of Rights not only protects Kim Dotcom’s rights, but also those of all New Zealand residents facing foreign legal action,” Rothken said.
And you’ve got to hand it to the Megaupload legal team — they have been putting in a lot of work for zero dollars, at least for now:
None of Dotcom’s legal team has been paid since he was arrested for alleged copyright infringement.
Having racked up bills of $2 million, Dotcom’s lawyers are asking for that amount to be released — with a further $2 million cover future legal fees.
The filesharing tycoon is asking the court to release an $8 million government bond so that he can borrow against it, and also for permission to sell his luxury cars.
However, Dotcom’s New Zealand defense lawyer Willie Akel would not agree to a suggested sale price of $1.05 million for fifteen cars, saying “that’s a total fire sale — no-one in their right mind would agree to that.”
They must have real confidence in his case if they are willing — nay, almost volunteering — to continue working his case pro bono for the time being (or at least if Dotcom can’t be allowed to sell his luxury cars at their fair price).
It seems the case is at a stalemate; nothing can seriously move forward until Dotcom can pay for his lawyers, or the United States gives New Zealand a real reason to turn him over. But seeing as the Justice Department is apparently appealing every decision that doesn’t go its way, we might not see something like that happen for a long time.