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Efforts to have MegaUpload case dismissed will be considered in court

By | Published on Monday 2 July 2012


A judge in Virginia has said he will consider an application by lawyers working for MegaUpload to have the criminal case against the former file-transfer website dismissed, with oral arguments likely to begin later this month.

As previously reported, MegaUpload’s legal team asked that the case against their clients be dismissed in late May, arguing that the company had no corporate base in the US so it was impossible to serve a criminal summons against it. The American authorities are trying to extradite seven men linked to the running of the MegaUpload company – including founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz – accusing the defendants and their company of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering.

Prosecutors countered that the MegaUpload lawyers’ claims had no substance, and that their call for the courts to dismiss the criminal action against the file-transfer company was a waste of time and resources. But Judge Liam O’Grady said last week that he’d hear Team Mega’s dismissal claim, and he set a briefing schedule for it.

At the same hearing on Friday, O’Grady refused an application to unfreeze some of the MegaUpload assets to help fund defence costs, but said that he’d reconsider that claim if attempts to have the case dismissed failed.

He also withheld judgement regards the ongoing debate over what should happen to legitimate data stored on MegaUpload’s servers, which were switched off without warning when the US authorities swooped on the controversial web operation in January. Prosecutors have not been especially sympathetic to those former MegaUpload customers who lost legitimate (ie non-copyright infringing) data in January, though O’Grady has shown more concern.

As previously reported, one affected former customer, Kyle Goodwin, with support from the Eletronic Frontier Foundation, has been leading on this issue, urging the courts to force the US government to facilitate the return of legitimate files. On Friday O’Grady said he needed more time to consider arguments made on this matter, but that he’d make a ruling “shortly”.

Back in New Zealand, where Dotcom lives, both prosecution and defence are still analysing last week’s court ruling that confirmed the raid on the MegaUpload founder’s home in January was illegal, because police had got the wrong kind of warrant. The New Zealand judge also ruled that US officials should not have been allowed to take copies of hard disks seized in the raid back to America.

It’s not clear whether those rulings will have any impact on US efforts to extradite Dotcom, though the MegaUpload man’s lawyers are considering seeking compensation over the illegal raid.