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New Zealand Supreme Court lengthens Dotcom US extradition fight

Sydney, Australia, Nov 4 (efe-epa).- The New Zealand Supreme Court said Wednesday the founder of closed Megaupload portal Kim Dotcom could be extradited to the United States for 12 of the 13 charges on him, but ordered a review of a ruling issued in 2015 by a lower court.

The highest court in New Zealand ruled that if Dotcom and his former Megaupload partners – Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk – fail in “the judicial review procedure, they may be extradited on all charges, except charge 3 ( conspiracy to launder money),” according to a Supreme Court statement.

The Supreme Court’s decision extends the long legal battle of the German computer scientist against his extradition that began in January 2012 after being detained, along with his three former partners, in the mansion he rented on the Auckland outskirts. It was part of an operation by the US FBI, which included the closure of Megaupload and the confiscation of its assets.

The four are wanted for crimes related to organized crime and electronic fraud in the US, where authorities maintain that Megaupload illegally obtained income amounting to about $175 million for the accommodation of illegal material between its 50 million users.

The judicial review that Dotcom and his former partners had initially requested for alleged procedural errors relates to a local court ruling that gave the green light in 2015 to his extradition.

In their 194-page ruling, the Supreme Court judges decided the Court of Appeals “was wrong to hold that the judicial review procedures were an abuse of process,” and gave the parties until mid-December to deliver arguments.

“The New Zealand Supreme Court found the lower court made procedural errors and asked for allegations about how they affect the case,” Ira Rothken, US attorney for Dotcom, said on Twitter.

The US lawyer also explained in his message that his legal team will argue the alleged “government misconduct” should result in the extradition of Dotcom and his former partners being denied.

Once the matter of the judicial review is resolved, it will be determined whether the four are extradited to the United States for 12 of the 13 charges that are accused, although the last word will be had by the New Zealand Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi who will swear to the charge Friday.

For his part, Dotcom’s lawyer in New Zealand, Ron Mansfield, stressed in a statement that a “final decision” has not yet been issued on what he considered a “political case” against his client.

Mansfield also criticized the Supreme Court for not accepting “our important copyright argument and, in our opinion, it has adopted significant resolutions that will have an immediate and chilling impact on the Internet.” EFE-EPA


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