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MegaUpload prosecution told to share evidence with defence

By | Published on Wednesday 30 May 2012


A judge in New Zealand has ordered the prosecution in the MegaUpload case to disclose all its evidence against the former bosses of the now defunct file-transfer platform, who are facing charges in the US of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering.

The New Zealand officials, acting on behalf of the American authorities in their legal bid to extradite MegaUpload founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz and three other men to the States, have so far only shared a selection of the files they have amassed in relation to the case, including some emails and key documents, but Judge David Harvey this week said they should let the defence see all of their evidence.

The lawyer leading the MegaUpload defence, Ira Rothken, welcomed the ruling, telling reporters: “This makes the playing field more even. I think this is a very significant ruling for New Zealand, because it demonstrates that New Zealand courts will intervene to protect the rights of its residents from foreign intrusion. We’re looking forward to this disclosure – once there is full transparency into the government’s claims, we believe Kim Dotcom, and the rest of those involved with MegaUpload, will prevail”.

Rothken is hoping to stop his clients from being extradited from New Zealand to the USA, most likely on the grounds that the crimes the MegaUpload execs are accused of do not carry a high enough sentence for the US/New Zealand extradition agreement to apply. A ruling on that matter should be made in August, though if and when he gets access to the prosecution’s box of evidence Rothken will presumably also start planning his clients’ defence for if and when the matter reaches the American courtroom, or in case criminal proceedings are pursued through the New Zealand courts if extradition fails.

At the same court hearing this week, Harvey said that Schmitz’s electronic monitory device could be removed, and that the former MegaUpload chief could return to the multi-million dollar house where he was living when police swooped on him and his company in January. Since being released from jail Schmitz has been living in a smaller property that adjoins what some have called ‘the Dotcom mansion’.