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Appeal judges refuse to further postpone Kim Dotcom’s extradition hearing

By | Published on Tuesday 15 September 2015

Kim Dotcom

The long-awaited much-delayed many-times-postponed extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom and the other former bosses of long defunct file-transfer service MegaUpload will take place next week as planned, despite new efforts to push back the proceedings into next year.

As previously reported, the former MegaUpload execs – who have been facing extradition from New Zealand to the US ever since their often controversial file-transfer company was shutdown by the American authorities in 2012 – last week argued that they couldn’t properly defend themselves because monies freed up from funds seized from their former business couldn’t be used to pay for legal expertise from outside New Zealand.

The MegaUpload men’s lawyers argue that any extradition hearing must assess whether there is a sufficient case against their clients under American law, and that therefore counsel from experts in US copyright and criminal law is required. The prosecution counter that at this stage it’s all about New Zealand law, so only New Zealand lawyers should be required.

As the latest extradition hearing approached, Team MegaUpload requested a further delay last week so they could fight for more funds to hire US expertise. But yesterday that request was denied, with appeal judges insisting next week’s hearing should go ahead.

The judges basically said that they couldn’t be expected to properly assess all the arguments presented just last week, but they were satisfied that Dotcom et al would get a fair hearing either way, because the judge overseeing next week’s extradition session has the power to adjourn the proceedings if necessary. And the MegaUpload defendants have further opportunities to appeal under New Zealand’s Extradition Act if the upcoming hearing rules against them.

But, needless to say, Dotcom himself was not impressed with all this. Before the appeal judges ruled, he tweeted: “Today we’ll find out if I get a fair extradition hearing or if the New Zealand judiciary will transform itself into a US-owned dancing bear”. Post ruling he returned to the tweets to declare: “As expected… Dancing bear”.

Meanwhile, long-standing Dotcom attorney Ira Rothken confirmed that his client’s New Zealand team would file a ‘motion for stay’, again seeking to postpone matters, next week. He told Ars Technica: “The motion for stay is being raised with the District Court on day one of the extradition hearing”.

He added: “We believe the [US Department Of Justice] is acting in a manner to deny due process in New Zealand and we are hopeful the court will decide the stay matter as a threshold issue. The DOJ is clearly concerned about the weakness of their case and what these experts have to say in order to resort to such procedural game playing to prevent their testimony”.