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New Zealand officials have spent 40,500 hours trying to extradite MegaUpload’s Kim Dotcom

By | Published on Friday 19 February 2021

Kim Dotcom

The New Zealand government has spent 40,500 hours and a further NZ$3.6 million on the legal case against the long defunct file-transfer service MegaUpload. Which is quite a lot.

The NZ Herald, which recently got the figures via an Official Information Act request, points out that – based on a 40 hour working week – that’s nineteen and half years of work. And MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom still hasn’t been extradited to the US.

Dotcom and some of his former MegaUpload colleagues were arrested in New Zealand all the way back in 2012, at the same time US authorities moved to take the MegaUpload sites offline and seize the company’s assets. Dotcom et al are accused of criminal copyright infringement, among other things, and US prosecutors want to get them into an American courtroom to face those charges.

However, extraditing Dotcom and team to the US has proven very challenging indeed, with the former MegaUpload execs utilising every route of appeal and honing in on every technicality. Courts in New Zealand, including the country’s Supreme Court, have all concluded that there are grounds to extradite the defendants to the US, but there are still a couple of appeal options yet to be exploited.

MegaUpload and its management are accused of not only running a file-transfer and video-sharing site that facilitated lots of copyright infringement, and of turning a blind eye to that infringement, but also of actively encouraging it. If the case does ever get to court, it will be an interesting test of the copyright safe harbour. Plus both the music and movie industries in the US also have pending civil litigation against the old MegaUpload company.

Although initiated by US authorities, so far it’s the New Zealand government that has been doing most of the heavy lifting to try to get Dotcom and co extradited. It was already known that this had involved many thousands of hours of work on the part of government lawyers and officials, though past estimates would probably not have gone as high as 40,500. The NZ$3.6 million in other costs include external legal work, airfares and general administration.

Needless to say, Dotcom himself is highly critical of the New Zealand government investing so much time and money into what he considers to be a baseless criminal action. He said on Twitter earlier this week: “The New Zealand government is so incredibly inept. They have been played by the US to turn a civil copyright case into a huge criminal embarrassment. Instead of me creating jobs and billions for the NZ economy they keep wasting taxpayer money to keep this stillborn case going”.

“40,000 hours wasted on this novel bullshit case which makes New Zealand look like an obedient colonial appendix defecating on their own rule of law in exchange for some ‘brownie points'”, he went on. “Embarrassingly dependent and spineless. But at least I don’t get COVID in New Zealand”.

He also took aim at New Zealand’s current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for failing to intervene since taking office in 2017. “My big disappointment is Jacinda”, he added. When in opposition her Labour Party “demanded independent enquiries into my case when it was politically convenient. Now she’s in power and does nothing to end this madness”.