Dotcom says extradition appeal to be live-streamed


Dotcom says extradition appeal to be live-streamed

Wellington (AFP) – Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom said Tuesday a judge had granted his request to live-stream his appeal to avoid extradition from New Zealand to the United States where he is wanted on video piracy charges.

“Breaking News: Judge has granted live streaming! Success!” Dotcom tweeted as his appeal went into its second day.

“Live stream will start tomorrow. The cameraman needs to set this up professionally and implement the Judges live streaming rules.”

The German national and founder of the Megaupload file-sharing service, who has permanent residency in New Zealand, faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted in the United States of piracy, which US authorities say cost copyright owners hundreds of millions of dollars.

His lawyer Ron Mansfield had argued when the case opened in the Auckland High Court on Monday that it raised “unprecedented issues of public and international interest” and it would not be a fair hearing without live-streaming.

Radio New Zealand reported that Judge Murray Gilbert granted the application, subject to Dotcom agreeing that the case would only be live-streamed and any footage would be removed as soon as the hearing was over.

The footage would also be streamed with a 20-minute delay, to allow the court to prevent any restricted material from being published.

It is nearly five years since Dotcom, a self-described “Internet freedom fighter”, was arrested in a dramatic police raid on his mansion near Auckland after the FBI shut down Megaupload’s servers.

In December last year, after a nine-week hearing, a New Zealand court ruled there was “overwhelming” evidence to support extradition of the 41-year-old and three other Megaupload founders.

The prosecution has argued that Megaupload wilfully breached copyright by hosting illegally created movie, music and software files.

Dotcom claimed Megaupload was a genuine file-sharing site that did its best to police copyright infringement but had 50 million daily users and could not control every aspect of their activity. 

Denying any wrongdoing, Dotcom has accused US authorities of pursuing a vendetta against him on behalf of politically influential Hollywood studios.

The FBI alleges Megaupload netted more than US$175 million in criminal proceeds and cost copyright owners more than US$500 million by offering pirated content.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom (L), pictured with girlfriend Elizabeth Donelly on August 29, 2016, says he has won his battle for his case to be live-streamed to ensure a fair hearing
Copyright AFP Kate Dwek