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MegaUpload founder again denied access to illegally gathered evidence, lawyer argues extradition case should be blocked

By | Published on Monday 2 December 2019


MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom suffered another setback in the New Zealand courts last week in a side-show dispute relating to the shutdown of the one-time file-transfer platform.

The US authorities shutdown MegaUpload on copyright infringement grounds all the way back in 2012, of course. They have been trying to extradite Dotcom from his adopted home of New Zealand to face criminal charges back in America ever since.

There has been all sorts of other legal wrangling in relation to the shutdown of MegaUpload in both the US and New Zealand alongside the core extradition hearings. And that includes Dotcom’s claims that New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau illegally spied on him, his family and his colleagues ahead of the 2012 shutdown of his company, and the accompanying raid on his then home.

Based on those allegations from Dotcom, the conduct of the GCSB was subsequently investigated. And by 2013 it had been confirmed that the agency had indeed broken the law in the way it spied on Dotcom and his associates. That confirmation predictably resulted in further litigation from the MegaUpload camp.

Among other things, Dotcom has been trying to get access to the recordings made when the GCSB was intersecting his communications as part of its illegal investigation. However, the spy agency has argued that the recordings should remain confidential citing the country’s 2006 Evidence Act, and claiming that “the public interest in the information being disclosed [is] outweighed by the public interest in withholding it”.

New Zealand’s High Court accepted the GCSB’s arguments in 2017, but Dotcom appealed, in particular taking issue with the way the lower court dealt with the case. However, last week the country’s Court Of Appeal upheld the High Court’s ruling.

The appeal judges said that while “the intercepted communications are relevant and there is a public interest in them being disclosed” to inform Dotcom’s ongoing case against the spy agency … “the GCSB’s claim that disclosure would harm national security and international relations is well-founded”. The appeals court’s job, the judges said, was to balance these two facts. They concluded: “The balancing exercise favours non-disclosure”.

Responding on Twitter, Dotcom declared that – given it’s agreed that the GCSB broke the law back in 2011 and 2012 – last week’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent.

“Unfortunately I live in a country”, he said, “where judges were appointed by a shady former attorney general who broke the law multiple times in my case. His appointments show that he picked Judges who are loyal to him. The law doesn’t matter in my case and your rights suffer as a result”.

Meanwhile, Dotcom’s US-based lawyer Ira Rothken argued that last week’s ruling should be grounds to stop the extradition of his client to America.

Also posting on Twitter, he wrote that “the government’s illegal spying in the Kim Dotcom case coupled with state refusal to provide relevant evidence amounts to extreme abuse. No court should entertain an extradition case so tainted with violations of basic human rights – it should now be dismissed in the interests of justice”.