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7/11/2012
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Megaupload's Kim Dotcom Offers To Extradite Himself

Dotcom says he'll come to U.S. if DOJ will guarantee him a fair trial and unfreeze his assets to cover legal expenses and living costs.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom Wednesday made the Department of Justice an offer he hopes it can't refuse: He'll drop his resistance to the extradition request filed by U.S. authorities with the New Zealand government, provided that prosecutors agree to a few simple demands.

"Hey DOJ, we will go to the U.S.," said Dotcom Wednesday via his Twitter account. "No need for extradition. We want bail, funds unfrozen for lawyers & living expenses."

The offer of a deal from German national Dotcom--formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and Kim Tim Jim Vestor--comes as his legal fees continue to mount. To date, he's retained 22 lawyers in multiple countries to work on the case. The related legal costs have totaled millions of dollars and have been exacerbated by delays in his extradition hearing, with a New Zealand court Tuesday saying that the next hearing into the extradition request would be delayed from next month to next year.

[ For more on the Megaupload case, see Kim Dotcom Gets Access To FBI's Megaupload Documents. ]

Prosecutors have accused Dotcom and other employees of the file-sharing website Megaupload--which at its peak accounted for 4% of all Internet traffic--with having earned $175 million via a campaign of copyright infringement, including related subscription fees and advertising revenue. After unsealing the related indictment in January, prosecutors issued arrest warrants and froze Dotcom's assets around the world.

"I have accumulated millions of dollars in legal bills and I haven't been able to pay a single cent. They just want to hang me out to dry and wait until there is no support left," Dotcom told The New Zealand Herald.

But if the United States agrees to a fair trial for all the Megaupload accused and also agrees to unfreeze funds and allow Dotcom to pay their legal bills and living expenses, he said he'd willingly travel to the United States to stand trial on the charges.

Dotcom and his Megaupload co-defendants--Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann, and Bram van der Kolk--have denied any wrongdoing.

Despite his offer, however, Dotcom doesn't expect U.S. authorities to take him up on the offer. "Considering the way the U.S. government has conducted their case and the way I was treated, I never expect to get a fair trial in the United States," Dotcom told the Guardian. "We are not expecting to hear back regarding the offer and I remain committed to fighting extradition in New Zealand."

Dotcom's case has hit some notable legal tangles since he was arrested in January. For starters, New Zealand will extradite someone only if they face charges that carry at least a five-year jail sentence under the country's laws. But as the maximum penalty for copyright infringement is just four years, U.S. prosecutors had to beef up their charges against Dotcom by accusing him of criminal racketeering--normally reserved for mob cases involving drugs or gambling--which in New Zealand carry a five-year maximum sentence. But legal experts said that charge puts the case on shaky legal ground.

Furthermore, New Zealand judge David Harvey ruled that the manner in which investigators had seized evidence against Dotcom--namely, cloning 17 hard drives and sending them to the United States--had left him unable to defend himself. He ordered the FBI and New Zealand prosecutors to share copies of all evidence from the seized drives that they planned to use to prove the charges against Dotcom and his co-defendants. New Zealand's high court is now reviewing Harvey's ruling. If it's upheld, New Zealand prosecutors said they'll appeal, and potentially even take the ruling to the country's Supreme Court.

But prosecutors are also awaiting a high court ruling related to the search warrants executed in the case, which were later ruled invalid. As a result of this ruling, the New Zealand police search and seizure of Megaupload property was illegal, although what remedies might be made as a result remains to be determined by the country's high court, reported the The New Zealand Herald.

Dotcom said all those delays didn't represent a victory for the Megaupload defendants, but rather an extended punishment. "People might think it's good news," he told the Guardian. "But it's not. Justice delayed is justice denied. And that's the foul game the U.S. government is playing. They have terminated my business without a trial. They have frozen my assets without a hearing."

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MyW0r1d
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MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/12/2012 | 1:43:58 PM
re: Megaupload's Kim Dotcom Offers To Extradite Himself
It will be interesting given the legal environment, applicability and differences of governing national laws, vague and superficial international laws/accords. Then dotcom will probably compare his operation to Facebook, Youtube, Google, Box, or any number of sites with comparable media/document sharing capabilities which are not being prosecuted and it could turn into a trial of legal political convenience where competitors, politicians, or industries (recording/hollywood) pushed DOJ into acting for their interests. This is not a case against Anonymous, LulzSec or others who have through illecit means caused damage, it was a business with liberal posting controls whose contributors may have exceeded or infringed some copyrights. Google, YouTube and others have frequently and successfully defended themselves from similar cases and attempts to define or assign responsibility to control their client's actions.
PJS880
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PJS880,
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2012 | 6:53:02 PM
re: Megaupload's Kim Dotcom Offers To Extradite Himself
WOW! I hope that Dotcom gets a fair trial, you know what the United States promises all people charged with any crimes. For those that have had to battle any sort of legalities, know that the statement is not at all close to reality. When you are charged in this country with a crime, weather it was a speeding ticket or something more serious, it is supposed to innocent until proven guilty, but with my experience it is usually you are treated like you are guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. The worse part of the matter is that Dotcom is treated like he is guilty before even standing before a judge.
Dotcom is right when he states that he will not get a fair trial in the US. I have not been following this case, but just what the article mentions it sounds like the US broke some of its own laws in order to charge and collect evidence against him. It makes sense to go public and announce that he will turn himself in, so that the public can clearly see that Dotcom is not hiding from the charges he faces, rather just trying to get on level playing ground before trying to prove his innocence. I find it unsettling that his business and his assets were seized and frozen all over the world, before he could even plea his side! Point proven!

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
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