New Zealand court rules Kim Dotcom can be extradited to US

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe 39-year-old Dotcom told reporters on Wednesday that he would fight the ruling

A New Zealand court has ruled that internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is eligible to be extradited to the United States to face multiple charges.

Dotcom, accused of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering, said he will appeal.

He founded the now-defunct file-sharing site Megaupload where millions of people downloaded movies and songs.

US authorities say Dotcom and others cost film studios and record companies more than $500m (£322m).

But Dotcom, a German national who has been living in Auckland and describes himself as an "internet freedom fighter" on his Twitter page, has fought the case arguing that he was not responsible for the copyright infringement.

The 39-year-old, born Kim Schmitz, told reporters outside the courtroom he would fight the ruling, adding: "I'm disappointed."

Three other men, who co-founded the site with Dotcom and face similar charges, have also been ruled as eligible for extradition.

Timeline of Kim Dotcom's case

image copyrightReuters
  • In 2005, Dotcom founded file-sharing website in Hong Kong, used by millions to share movies, TV shows, pictures and songs.
  • Dotcom was granted residency in New Zealand in 2010. He has been living in Auckland since then.
  • In January 2012, US authorities shut down and charged Dotcom with copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering.
  • New Zealand police raided his house at the request of the FBI. The US government began extradition proceedings that same year.
  • The extradition hearing started in September 2015 in Auckland. On 23 December, an Auckland judge ruled he could be sent to the US to face charges.

The hearing which began in September was not to determine Dotcom's guilt, but whether he should be sent to the US to be tried.

Judge Nevin Dawson told the court in Auckland that the US has a "large body of evidence" supporting the case and that the defendants "fall well short of undermining the case", reported news outlet Stuff.

'Justice not served'

After the ruling, Dotcom said on Twitter: "Thank you for your support. The fight goes on. Enjoy the holidays. I'm happy to be with my kids. There are bigger things than copyright."

A member of Dotcom's legal team, Ira Rothken, said on Twitter: "The @KimDotcom team looks forward to having the US request for extradition reviewed in the High Court."

"We believe the (district court) was wrong... Justice was not served today."

In an interview with New Zealand Herald earlier this week, Dotcom said he plans to take separate legal action in Hong Kong, where he founded Megaupload.

He said he plans to sue the Hong Kong justice department and seek more than $2bn in damages for taking down his site. Earlier this month a Hong Kong court allowed him to access some of his frozen assets held there.

"I now have the opportunity to fight back in Hong Kong and take legal action against those who have destroyed what I have built there and that means I can sue, indirectly the US government by suing the Hong Kong Department of Justice," he was quoted as saying.

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