NZ launches inquiry into spying in Megaupload case

September 24, 2012

Chicago Tribune on September 23, 2012 released the following:

“Reuters

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has launched a inquiry into “unlawful” spying by government agents leading to the arrest of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the United States where he faces charges of internet piracy and breaking copyright laws.

The probe may deal another blow to the U.S. case after a New Zealand court ruled in June that search warrants used in the raid on Dotcom’s home earlier this year, requested by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, were illegal.

Key has asked the government’s Intelligence and Security division to investigate “circumstances of unlawful interception of communications of certain individuals by the Government Communications Security Bureau”, his office said in a statement on Monday.

Key’s spokesman would not comment on whether the “certain individuals” referred to Dotcom, his three colleagues also arrested and facing U.S. charges, or all of them.

“The Bureau had acquired communications in some instances without statutory authority,” Key’s statement said.

New Zealand authorities arrested Dotcom and his colleagues at his rented country estate near Auckland in January, confiscating computers and hard drives, works of art, and cars.

The FBI accuses the flamboyant Dotcom, a 38-year-old German national also known as Kim Schmitz, of leading a group that netted $175 million since 2005 by copying and distributing music, films and other copyrighted content without authorization.

“I welcome the inquiry by (Key) into unlawful acts by the GCSB,” Dotcom said on his Twitter account.

Dotcom maintains that the Megaupload site was no more than an online storage facility, and has accused Hollywood of lobbying the U.S. government to vilify him.

The raid and evidence seizure has already been ruled illegal and a court has ruled that Dotcom should be allowed to see the evidence on which the extradition hearing will be based.

U.S. authorities have appealed against that ruling, and a decision is pending.”

————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————–

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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email:


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.”

————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————–

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.