In January 2012, the FBI shut down Megaupload, a file-sharing site, and accused its founder, Kim Dotcom (that’s his legal name), of copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering. Dotcom was in New Zealand at the time of the raid, and there he has remained ever since. On Monday, after three years of legal wrangling, Dotcom—and three of his associates—faced an extradition hearing that could see him sent to the U.S. to face trial.
As you might expect with an Internet millionaire who goes by the name Kim Dotcom, it’s not a straightforward affair. As NPR pointed out soon after Dotcom’s arrest, the entrepreneur “has been fighting both a legal war and a public relations war against the U.S. government and he’s become a kind of patron saint of those in favor of a free Internet.” He continued that battle before Monday’s proceedings:
This case is not just about me. This case is about how much control we allow US corporations and the US government to have over the Internet— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) September 20, 2015
The judges on this case can become the champions for billions of Internet users or a handful of US content billionaires. #Hope— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) September 20, 2015
I love the Internet. I will continue to fight for you.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) September 20, 2015
U.S. official say Dotcom and his associates generated $175 million by allowing users to share and store copyrighted material on Megaupload.
Stuff, the New Zealand-based news website, reported that Monday’s extradition proceedings in Auckland “immediately got bogged down in technical, legal argument.” Here’s more:
While the first day’s business of the hearing was mainly procedural, with lawyers for the United States and those representing Dotcom and his co-accused arguing over what order different parts of the case should be heard, the outcome could impact on whether the extradition hearing was delayed again or possibly put off altogether.
Much of the news coverage of Monday’s proceedings were focused on Dotcom’s size, his ergonomic chair, his all-black garb, and his Mercedes G55 V8 Kompressor. Here’s how Steve Braunias, a columnist for the New Zealand Herald, described Monday’s extradition proceedings in Auckland:
Today’s proceedings were devoted to the niceties of legal wrangling. In common parlance, they were devoted to bitching and moaning.
Crown lawyer Christine Gordon QC, a picture of grave authority in her pin-striped pant suit, moaned about the defence applications for a stay of proceedings. She told Judge Nevin Dawson they lacked an “air of reality”.
The air, filled with her voice, was too much for one character who sat in the public gallery. He fell asleep, and was turfed out by a security guard who had a tattoo reading RIP DAZ on his massive forearm.
Grant Illingworth QC, acting for van der Kolk and Ortmann, addressed the court after Gordon finished her soliloquy. His suit was grey, his hair was grey, his bitching was consistent.
“I submit we have to adjourn ... Paragraph four ... Impossible task ... Natural justice ... Frustrating ... Paragraph seven”, etc.
The hearing is expected to take weeks.