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Kim Dotcom

Megaupload's Kim Dotcom argues extradition appeal should be live-streamed to ensure fair hearing

Tech entrepreneur’s lawyer argued that conventional reporting was unlikely to cover all aspects of a case that has attracted global attention and could be ‘unbalanced’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 August, 2016, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 August, 2016, 11:03pm

An appeal by flamboyant German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom over a decision to extradite him to the United States began in New Zealand on Monday, with the Megaupload founder’s legal team arguing the hearing should be livestreamed on YouTube.

The High Court hearing opened in Auckland nine months after a lower court ruled the former Hong Kong-based Dotcom could be sent to the United States to face copyright infringement and money-laundering charges over the operation of file-sharing website Megaupload.

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“US defends mass surveillance programs with ‘If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’ but opposes live streaming of my hearing,” Dotcom, who attended some of the hearing, said on Twitter.

His lawyer Ron Mansfield told the court the case raised “unprecedented issues of public and international interest” and it would not be a fair hearing without live-streaming.

Mansfield said conventional reporting was unlikely to cover all aspects of a case that has attracted global attention and could be “unbalanced”.

Streaming had been successfully used in previous court cases and inquiries in New Zealand, he added.

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The judge could make a decision on live-streaming as early as Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for New Zealand government prosecutors, who are representing the United States, said it was not appropriate to comment while the matter was before the courts.

Lawyers representing the United States had previously argued that Megaupload’s practices, such as paying rewards to repeat copyright infringers, were evidence that Megaupload was made with the aim of providing access to pirated files.

Dotcom, who moved to Hong Kong in 2003 and established Megaupload here two years later, also has residency in New Zealand and Finland. He is presently on bail.

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In January 2011, about 100 Hong Kong customs officers working with the FBI raided Dotcom’s penthouse suite at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Wan Chai, seizing digital evidence and millions in assets. Three other locations linked to the now-defunct Megaupload, were also raided.

US authorities say Dotcom and three co-accused Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175 million by encouraging paying users to store and share copyrighted material, such as movies and TV shows.

Years of legal wrangling followed Dotcom’s arrest in New Zealand police raid in 2012, and it emerged that the Government Communications Security Bureau had illegally spied on him before the raid.

The case has been watched by the media industry and developers in the file-sharing business for signs of how far the United States is willing to go to protect US copyright holders.

Megaupload accounted for about 4 per cent of total traffic on the Internet in its heyday as users stored and shared files containing everything from wedding videos to Hollywood films.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse