On January 20th, Kim Dotcom (a.k.a. Kim Schmitz), the New Zealand Megaupload founder and internet superstar was bum-rushed by an two-year FBI investigation that culminated in an early-morning paramilitary raid and seizure on everything Dotcom owned and then some. In fact the “and then some” should have you worried, if you’re an online entrepreneur.
U.S. authorities managed to convince the New Zealand anti-terrorist squad that operating a file hosting website (or piracy enabler as the opposition would so crassly frame it) warranted “… armed officers arrived in helicopters and dropped into the Dotcom mansion courtyard.” Police turned off and seized servers, sending legitimate paying customers in a frenzy. Anyone who critically relied upon the Megaupload company has been up shit’s creek without a paddle since.
Now it seems Kim Dotcom is starting to get the upper hand in his defense and public relations nightmare — which will no doubt be lengthy and costly to pursue for both sides. He’s gained access to $74,000 to pay creditors, and is asking for an additional $220,000 to cover additional household, legal and business related expenses. I assume his success is trying to be used as an easy target of ridicule, but we can’t simply swallow the prosecution’s assertion that he’s some kind of thief who will disappear in the night because he’s successful.
As Dotcom tried to gear up for a legal battle, the prosecution went to even more ridiculous measures — arguing for the restriction of his access to the internet in a blatant attempt to sever his connection to online reporters. His lack of connectivity also seriously hampers his ability to mount a credible defense and puts him largely at the whim of his legal team’s efforts.
Still, Dotcom is a savvy player, and it showed in his first official long-form interview to the New Zealand channel 3 show Live Campbell (that will probably go viral).
Of his legal predicament, he’s said, “[YouTube] won their lawsuit and I’m sitting in jail, my house is being raided, all my assets are frozen without a trial, without a hearing. This is completely insane, is what it is,” referring to Google’s victory in the case against their video-sharing website.
“I’m not Google. I don’t have 50 billion dollars in my account and right now I’ve not a penny on my account. All my lawyers currently are basically working without a penny and they are all still on board and all still doing their job because what they see here is unfair, is unreasonable and is not justice.”
Here’s just a part of the impressive legal coverage from the great folks over at Torrent Freak:
On February 22nd, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom was released on bail by North Shore District Court Judge Nevin Dawson.
Dotcom had been held in custody since an anti-terrorist police squad raided his Coatesville mansion in January following a lengthy FBI investigation.
The prosecution, acting on behalf of the US Government, argued that Dotcom had hidden resources that would enable him to flee the country should he be granted bail. Although four additional bank accounts in the Philippines were discovered, all of them were empty, and the Judge concluded that there was no evidence of significant funds elsewhere
As a result the Megaupload founder was released from prison, free to continue the fight against the US authorities who want him extradited to face racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering charges.
When TorrentFreak spoke with Dotcom yesterday he was in high spirits but the Crown, acting on behalf of the US Government, had already appealed the decision to free the Megaupload founder.
Crown prosecutor Anne Toohey told the court yesterday that since Dotcom’s release last week two further banks accounts had been discovered – one in the Philippines and another in the British Virgin Islands containing $2000.
She said that this, along with allegations that Dotcom might have access to forged travel documents, was enough to have the 38-year-old put back in prison.
Representing Dotcom, Paul Davison QC argued that it made no sense for his client to try and flee the country, not least because his wife Mona will shortly give birth to twins.
Today Judge Tim Brewer agreed, denying the prosecution’s appeal and allowing Dotcom to remain a free man pending an extradition appeal in August.
The prosecution is also investigating Kim’s wife Mona Dotcom because apparently it’s better to have their kids be wards of the state than grow up with parents who are a successful online entrepreneurs.
Don’t be surprised if Dotcom manages to pull a rabbit out of his hat on the case. He’s confidently predicted his own outcome, “I’m a fighter … I’m going to win this … I’m no criminal.”