Following an extradition hearing lasting 10 weeks, today New Zealand District Court Judge Nevin Dawson ruled that Kim Dotcom and his colleagues can indeed be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Dotcom confirmed that an appeal to the High Court would go ahead.
After expending hundreds of hours of legal resources since the momentous raid on Megaupload in 2012, the U.S. authorities left no stone unturned in their efforts to have Kim Dotcom and colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk extradited from New Zealand to face justice in the United States.
Those efforts culminated in an extradition hearing that began in September and was scheduled to last just four weeks. In the event the process lasted more than two and half months and was punctuated by several moments of drama.
At the end of the hearing in November, Judge Nevin Dawson retired to consider his decision and a few moments ago released his much anticipated ruling.
In a blow to the Megaupload founder and his former colleagues, Judge Dawson ruled that the quartet can indeed be sent to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement, conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering.
Judge Dawson did not determine guilt or otherwise but found that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) had presented enough evidence for New Zealand to grant a request from the the United States to extradite. Dawson said that Dotcom and his colleagues had not done enough to undermine the case.
However, while Judge Dawson has rendered his decision, that does not mark the end of the battle. Speaking with TorrentFreak earlier today, Kim Dotcom said that whatever the outcome, win or lose, appeals from both sides were likely.
“The appeal route is High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court. If I lose, [it goes to a] decision by Minister of Justice, then to a High Court judicial review of the Minister’s decision. [Then it’s the ] end of the road,” he said.
Ira Rothkin, head of Dotcom’s legal team, reiterated this on Twitter moments after the verdict was announced.
In any event (and pending an appeal) the decision by Judge Dawson does not mean that Dotcom and his former colleagues will be forced to leave the country. That decision is left to Justice Minister Amy Adams who under New Zealand’s Extradition Act decides whether extraditions can go ahead.
In the meantime Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk will continue to get bail, despite Judge Dawson noting that there was now a heightened flight risk. They must report twice a week to a police station.
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