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Kim Dotcom denies he’s a fugitive

By | Published on Wednesday 10 December 2014

Kim Schmitz

More MegaUpload legal shenanigans, and lawyers working for the men who used to run the controversial file-transfer service – shut down by US authorities in early 2012 – have accused the American government of unfairly portraying their clients as “fugitives”.

MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and his former colleagues are, of course, fighting extradition attempts, the US authorities wanting them to face criminal charges of money laundering and rampant copyright infringement. The long delayed court hearing to consider that extradition application has been kicked back into 2015.

In the meantime, there have been various bits of civil action over former MegaUpload assets frozen at the time the service was raided and shut down. In amongst all that, America’s Department Of Justice argued that Dotcom et al shouldn’t be allowed to oppose an asset forfeiture request on the basis that they are ‘fugitives’.

According to Torrentfreak, US Attorney Dana Boente recently stated regarding the MegaUpload defendants: “Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann and Sven Echternach are deliberately avoiding prosecution by declining to enter the United States where the criminal case is pending”.

Basically she’s saying, they’re all fugitives, so fuck them. But not so, say lawyers working for Team Mega. The defendants didn’t flee America to avoid arrest and prosecution, rather they are complying with the extradition procedures in the countries where they were residing at the time of the MegaUpload shutdown.

Say the attorneys: “These claimants never fled the United States to evade prosecution. To the contrary, they remain precisely where they have long been residing and carrying out the very business enterprise that the government characterises as criminal – in New Zealand”.

They go on: “Nor have these claimants altered their plans so as to avoid return to the United States. To the contrary, they are simply maintaining the pre-indictment status quo and following the rule of law by invoking their rights under the laws and procedures of their home countries, where they had long-planned to remain”.

Dotcom, for his part, says: “I have never been a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. I have never visited the United States”.

It remains to be seen what status the federal court in Virginia decides to apply to Dotcom et al. The decision will definitely impact on other elements of his ongoing and famously costly legal wranglings.