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Appeals court denies return of Kim Dotcom’s assets due to ‘fugitive’ status

By | Published on Monday 15 August 2016

Kim Dotcom

An American appeals court has denied Kim Dotcom’s latest attempt to regain assets seized by the US government during the takedown of MegaUpload in 2012. The Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeals said that, while Dotcom remains in New Zealand fighting extradition to the US, as far as they are concerned his status is that of a fugitive, and he is therefore not entitled to the return of his funds.

Millions of dollars were seized in multiple territories as MegaUpload was shut down and Dotcom and some of his former colleagues were arrested in New Zealand over allegations of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement. Since then, Dotcom and his lawyers have successfully sought to unfreeze some of those funds to cover his living and legal costs, though the courts are still overseeing all the remaining monies linked to the former MegaUpload business.

On Friday, a panel of three judges voted two to one to leave Dotcom’s assets under the control of the US government. Dotcom’s lawyer Ira Rothken said that they would now fight the decision in a higher court, arguing that by branding his client a fugitive, the US is ignoring his legal right to fight extradition.

“This opinion has the effect of eviscerating Kim Dotcom’s treaty rights by saying if you lawfully oppose extradition in New Zealand, the US will still call you a fugitive and take all of your assets”, Rothken told Reuters yesterday.

Speaking to RNZ, he added: “By basically saying ‘hey, we’re going to call that fugitive disentitlement, we’re going to take away your ability to have funds to defend yourself’, we think that’s too much. We think it’s American imperialism at its best, and we’re hoping the Supreme Court or the larger Court circuit will see it for what it is, and reverse it”.

Dotcom himself reacted angrily to the news, tweeting: “I’m a ‘fugitive’ coz I use my treaty rights to defend against extradition and they take my assets without trial? 1938? Did they think they can separate me from my kids without a fight? I fight corrupt US empire clowns all day, every day. Not even tired”.

As previously reported, 20th Century Fox recently claimed that Dotcom had breached a court order by receiving a $220,000 loan from a legal firm representing him on behalf of a trust for his children. Those reps contested that the loan was a new asset not covered by the existing asset freezing order.

Meanwhile, Dotcom’s next appeal hearing against his extradition is due to begin at the end of this month.