U.S. judge finds for MegaUpload, orders DOJ to cooperate on user files

April 16, 2012

RawStory.com on April 13, 2012 released the following:

“By Stephen C. Webster

A judge in Alexandria, Virginia ruled Friday in favor of attorneys for the cyberlocker website MegaUpload, ordering the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to work with the site’s operators to return personal files to more than 60 million of the site’s users.

MegaUplaod founder Kim Dotcom, an eccentric New Zealand millionaire, stands accused in the U.S. of running the largest pirate media operation in history, and is currently fighting a U.S. extradition request in his own country following a January SWAT raid on his estate. MegaUpload provided blind file hosting to its users, enabling them to upload and share anything, but it also gave content creators the ability to report and delete links to files that infringed upon copyrights.

U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady agreed with MegaUpload attorney Ira Rothken in a hearing Friday, and ordered the DOJ to work with MegaUpload and its users to reach an amicable solution to the quandary of legitimate, non-infringing files being held in legal limbo. The question of what will happen to the files arose after an Ohio-based entrepreneur teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to sue for access to his business files.

Prosecutors argued Friday that the DOJ should simply order the hosting company to delete MegaUpload’s user files, as they’ve already obtained a large sample of the files to be used as evidence against MegaUpload, which will be turned over to defense attorneys amid the evidence discovery process.

The site had more than 150 million users at the time of the New Zealand raid. MegaUpload’s managers have since said that its users included government workers and even congressional staffers, along with soldiers overseas who used the service to share multimedia with their families in the U.S. At least six movie studios have argued that MegaUpload was growing an illegal operation that, at its core, was just designed to facilitate piracy.

Judge O’Grady’s ruling Friday is another in a series of minor victories for MegaUpload and Dotcom, who recently saw a judge in New Zealand chastise police for raiding his home based upon a bogus warrant. Officials tried to file for the correct warrant after the fact, making it retroactive. The judge said she may ultimately order that all of Dotcom’s assets be returned to him, which would provide a significant boost to his legal defense. Security footage of that raid has since mysteriously disappeared while in police custody.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and New Zealand here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Christopher Tappin Extradition: US Judge Rules Businessman To Remain In Jail

March 5, 2012

The Huffington Post UK on March 5, 2012 released the following:

“A US judge’s decision to remand a retired British businessman in custody while he awaits trial on arms dealing charges was “heartbreaking”, his wife said tonight.

Elaine Tappin said it was an “outrage” that her 65-year-old husband Christopher has been refused bail after he was extradited to the United States two weeks ago.

Judge Robert Castaneda ruled Tappin must remain in custody after US prosecutors told the federal court in El Paso, Texas, he may be a “danger to the community” if released.

Mrs Tappin, 62, of Orpington, Kent, said: “This is an outrage. God only knows how he’ll bear up. It’s heartbreaking.”

Tappin has spent 23 hours a day locked in his cell at the Otero County detention centre in New Mexico since he was extradited to America.

His wife went on: “I am shocked and deeply disappointed.

“He’s a man of his word and is certainly not at risk of fleeing – where would he go?

“He doesn’t have his passport or access to money.

“Why has the British Government allowed him to be incarcerated in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day before he’s even been tried?

“Tony Blair helped the NatWest Three, why can’t David Cameron help Chris?”

Mrs Tappin added: “He’s not a danger to anyone – he’s a 65-year-old granddad.

“How is he supposed to prepare a proper defence when he’s only been allowed to communicate with his lawyers from behind a plastic screen?”

Tappin lost his two-year battle against extradition to America two weeks ago and denies attempting to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles which were to be shipped from the US to Tehran via the Netherlands.

The president of the Kent Golf Union, who faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted, was escorted into the courtroom on Friday wearing an orange-red prison jumpsuit, with his feet and one hand shackled.

US marshals allowed the other hand to remain free so he could use a cane he needs to walk.

Assistant US attorney Greg McDonald asked the judge to keep Tappin in jail for the remainder of the proceedings.

“The risk is not that he’ll punch somebody in the face, but through the use of a computer and the knowledge he has, he might pose a danger to the community,” Mr McDonald said.

Tappin has no ties to the US and failed to disclose to court officials his frequent travels to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa, he added.

But Kent Schaffer, representing Tappin, said if released, his client would have complied with any restrictions imposed by the court and his family was ready to post bail of 50,000 dollars (£31,600).

His case fuelled the row over the fairness of the extradition treaty between the UK and the US.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC said Tappin’s extradition highlighted problems with the treaty which were not “readily curable”, warning that many Britons were left uneasy when faced with the seemingly harsh and disproportionate sentences in the American justice system.

Other critics of the 2003 treaty, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, have described it as “one-sided”, but an independent review by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker last year found it was both balanced and fair.

Tappin’s extradition follows an investigation which started in 2005 when US agents asked technology providers about buyers who might have raised red flags.

Those customers were then approached by undercover companies set up by government agencies.

Briton Robert Gibson, an associate of Tappin who agreed to co-operate, was jailed for 24 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to export defence articles.

Gibson provided ICE agents with about 16,000 computer files and emails indicating that he and Tappin had long-standing commercial ties with Iranian customers.

American Robert Caldwell was also found guilty of aiding and abetting the illegal transport of defence articles and served 20 months in prison.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Megaupload founder faces lengthy extradition battle

January 25, 2012

Thomson Reuters on January 25, 2012 released the following:

Reporting by Gyles Beckford and Rebecca Hamilton

“Jan 25 (Reuters) – Efforts by the United States to extradite the mastermind of an alleged Internet piracy scheme from New Zealand to face copyright infringement and money laundering charges are likely to be long and complex.

Kim Dotcom, a German national also known as Kim Schmitz, will be held in custody in New Zealand until Feb. 22 ahead of a hearing of a U.S. extradition application.

U.S. authorities claim Dotcom’s file-sharing site, Megaupload.com, has netted $175 million since 2005 by copying and distributing music, movies and other copyrighted content without authorization. Dotcom’s lawyers say the company simply offered online storage and that he will fight extradition.

“It could take some considerable time to get through the whole thing,” said senior New Zealand lawyer Grant Illingworth, adding there were rights of appeal and procedural review to both sides.

Dotcom, 38, and three others, were arrested on Friday after a police raid at his rented country estate, reputedly New Zealand’s most expensive home, at the request of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Under New Zealand’s extradition law the prosecution must show there is enough evidence that would substantiate charges against Dotcom and the others accused of breaching local copyright laws.

“What the judge has to do is decide whether there is a prima facie case that would justify the person being put on trial if the offence had occurred in New Zealand,” Illingworth said.

“If the evidence doesn’t make out, what under New Zealand law amounts to a prima facie case, then the person walks away.”

A 1970 extradition treaty between the United States and New Zealand gives the U.S. 45 days from the time of Dotcom’s arrest to request extradition. The New Zealand Extradition Act, passed in 1999, gives the United States preferential status to access a streamlined process for making its request.

The judge who refused Dotcom bail said he could not assess whether the United States had a strong enough case against Dotcom, nor whether he had a good defense.

“All I can say is that there appears to be an arguable defense, at least in respect of the breach of copyright charges,” Judge David McNaughton wrote in his judgement.

CIVIL MATTER

Copyright infringement and illegal file sharing are normally civil matters in New Zealand, but there is a provision for criminal charges and a maximum 5-year jail term for serious breaches.

Rick Shea, a partner at Lowndes Jordan in Auckland, said there were some differences between New Zealand and U.S. copyright law, in terms of knowledge, that could be an issue.

Douglas McNabb, a U.S. lawyer who specializes in extradition defense, said extraditions to the United States have to meet probable cause – the same standard that is required for making arrests in the United States.

Although the extradition hearing is not a test of guilt or innocence, McNabb said Dotcom’s lawyers may argue they should be allowed a limited discovery process to show that probable cause has not been met.

Prime Minister John Key said the issues raised were serious and New Zealand would co-operate with the U.S. authorities.

“This is the largest, most significant case in Internet piracy so New Zealand is certainly going to work with the United States authorities to allow them to extradite Kim Dotcom,” he said on TV3.

According to Shea, New Zealand has never had an extradition proceeding involving copyright law. “I wouldn’t expect this to be sorted out quickly,” he said.

AGGRESSIVE CHARGES

Anthony Falzone, Director for Copyright and Fair Use at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, said it was too early to comment on the strength of the case, but questioned whether some of the allegations in the indictment would actually push Megaupload outside the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The indictment “pushes some pretty aggressive theories”, Falzone said.

The most recent Supreme Court case to deal with similar issues was in 2005. In MGM v. Grokster, the U.S. court highlighted the importance of intent in determining if an Internet firm was liable for its users infringing copyright.

“A lot of the Megaupload case may also rise and fall on the question of intent,” said Falzone.

With MGM, the court found the intent of the Internet company from the beginning was to build a tool to facilitate illegal sharing.

“Maybe that’s what the Feds (FBI) think they have here, too,” said Falzone.

The case is USA v. Kim DotCom et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, no. 1:12CR3.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and New Zealand here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Man charged in fatal ICE ambush

December 22, 2011

El Paso Times on December 22, 2011 released the following:

“By Diana Washington Valdez \ El Paso Times

A man accused of taking part in the Feb. 11 slaying of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent that also left a second ICE agent wounded was charged on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., after Mexico extradited him to the United States.

Julian “Piolin” Zapata Espinoza faces charges for his alleged role in the murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata of Brownsville, and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila of El Paso.

“The extradition and charges filed against Zapata Espinoza is an important step in bringing Jaime and Victor’s alleged shooters to justice,” ICE Director John Morton said. “All of us at ICE are encouraged by today’s action and appreciate the unwavering work and support of all our law enforcement partners in this case.”

“The indictment unsealed today and the successful extradition of ‘Piolin’ to the United States reflect the Justice Department’s vigorous and determined efforts to seek justice for Agents Zapata and Avila,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. “We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners in Mexico to hold violent criminals accountable.”

On April 19, a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a four-count indictment against Zapata Espinoza, charging him with one count of murder of an officer or employee of the United States, for the murder of Jaime Zapata; one count of attempted murder of an officer or employee of the United States; and one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person, both for the attempted murder of Avila; and one count of using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.

Zapata Espinoza, who is being held without bond, appeared in U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth’s court and pleaded not guilty. His next appearance in court is scheduled for Jan. 25.

In a statement, the Mexican National Defense Secretariat said Mexican soldiers captured Zapata Espinoza on Feb. 23, along with other alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel.

Military officials said Zapata Espinoza “stated he was in charge of the group of gunmen that shot the U.S. agent, (and that) he said that this event was a mistake because they thought that the people in the (U.S. agents’) vehicle were members of an antagonistic (rival) group.”

U.S. officials said the two U.S. agents were traveling from a meeting in San Luis Potosi to Mexico City the day they were ambushed by a group of armed men.

Zapata, who began his law enforcement career with the Border Patrol, was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.

Avila, the ICE agent who was shot twice in the leg, recovered from his wounds.

One of the charges is that Zapata Espinoza participated in the attempted murder of an “internationally protected person,” according to the indictment against him.

“He was apparently a U.S. federal agent that pursuant to international law had special protection,” said Douglas C. McNabb, a lawyer and senior principal with McNabb Associates PC, a global criminal defense firm with a website at www.mcnabbassociates.com.

Sheldon Snook, a deputy court clerk in the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C., said the U.S. Attorneys Manual defines “internationally protected persons” based on U.S. legislation and United Nations conventions, including the Vienna Convention.

Such persons can include heads of state, diplomats and others that in this case the U.S. State Department has determined holds the status.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


International Extradition of Houston Day Care Worker Raises Serious Legal Questions

March 7, 2011

Jessica Rene Tata, a U.S. citizen wanted for her alleged role in a Houston day care fire, has yet to be added to the INTERPOL Red Notice fugitive list, despite media reports to the contrary. Tata has allegedly fled the United States and is thought to be in Nigeria. As of this afternoon, INTERPOL has still not published a Red Notice for Tata.

On February 24, a fire in a Houston day care owned and operated by Tata, claimed the lives of four children and left three survivors. Allegedly, Tata was not on the premises when the fire began.

The issue arises whether the Houston District Attorney’s Office has over-charged the case. Tata was originally charged with reckless injury to a child on Monday, February 28 and an arrest warrant was issued. The following day, Tata was additionally charged with six counts of reckless injury to a child and three counts of abandoning a child under the age of 15. On Wednesday, the Southern District of Texas charged Tata with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Last Thursday, a grand jury indicted Tata on four counts of manslaughter. The charges against Tata have now risen to 15 counts.

It seems the Houston DA’s office is scrambling to bring charges against Tata, first for her arrest, and subsequently thereafter. Significantly, the original charges against Tata are not extraditable offenses under the U.S. and Nigerian extradition treaty, which most likely explains the grand jury indictment for manslaughter. Manslaughter is an extraditable offense under the treaty, but why did it take the Houston DA’s office three different sets of charges to eventually charge Tata with an extraditable offense? Moreover, only when the U.S. and Nigerian extradition treaty and extraditable offenses were brought to the attention of the Houston DA’s office by multiple outside sources, did the manslaughter charges arise. It appears Tata has been indicted with manslaughter for extradition purposes, not because the Houston DA’s office believes manslaughter is the proper charge in the case.

The Houston DA’s office needs to realize international extradition proceedings will most likely take time. If Tata agrees to extradition, she may be back in the U.S. within a month or so. However, if she fights the extradition request, she will be entitled to a hearing in Nigeria that will require the U.S. government to show probable cause for the charges underlying her extradition. This could be a serious issue for the Houston DA’s office due to the problems discussed above.

In addition to the onslaught of charges, the U.S. Marshals Service added Tata to the list of 15 Most Wanted last Friday. The U.S. Marshals have identified Tata as “armed and dangerous,” but on what grounds? Nothing in the case indicates Tata is in fact armed and dangerous. This designation has serious implications for Tata. For example, law enforcement authorities may exceed what is necessary for her arrest if they believe she is armed and dangerous.

The allegations against Tata are indeed serious. However, state and federal law enforcement authorities have to play by the rules and follow state and international extradition laws. Over-charging an individual and manipulating the system compromises the integrity of the entire U.S. judicial process, and law enforcement authorities need to keep that in mind.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Julian Assange – Can U.S. Get Him While His Case Is On Appeal?

February 23, 2011

Douglas McNabb discusses the possibility of the U.S. seeking Mr. Assange’s extradition while the case is on appeal in the British Courts.

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Julian Assange – U.S. International Extradition and Alternatives to Extradition

February 10, 2011

Federal Attorney Douglas McNabb addresses U.S. International Extradition, and alternatives to extradition, that Julian Assange may face if indicted by the U.S. Government.

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