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New Zealand’s Supreme Court agrees to hear final MegaUpload extradition appeal

By | Published on Friday 21 December 2018


New Zealand’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear a final appeal by Kim Dotcom and the other former managers of one-time file-transfer platform MegaUpload in relation to efforts to extradite them to the US to face charges of criminal copyright infringement.

It’s nearly seven years since the US authorities shut down MegaUpload on copyright infringement grounds, seizing its domains and servers and launching criminal proceedings against its management team, many of whom, like Dotcom, lived in New Zealand. The music and movie industries subsequently filed civil litigation which was then put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal cases.

Dotcom et al have been fighting extradition through the New Zealand courts ever since. At each stage judges have ultimately sided with US prosecutors, ruling that there are grounds to extradite the MegaUpload men. However, not all routes of appeal have been exhausted.

That said, lawyers for the US argued that the case should not go to the Supreme Court, and that the second phase of the extradition process should begin, where the case is considered by the country’s Minister Of Justice.

Whether or not a third appeal in the courts should be allowed depended on how you interpreted changes to New Zealand law since the whole case began back in 2012. For their part, MegaUpload’s lawyers argued a final appeal in the courts should go ahead.

This morning the Supreme Court itself sided with Team MegaUpload, in that they said they would take the case. In a statement, the court said that “given the significance of extradition” it didn’t believe that, when amending the rules, the country’s parliament intended to deny the right of appeal to the Supreme Court in cases like this. To that end the country’s highest court stated: “We conclude that we have jurisdiction to entertain the proposed appeals”.

Needless to say, Dotcom was quick to welcome the ruling, saying on Twitter: “The US tried to stop the Supreme Court of New Zealand from hearing my appeal by challenging its jurisdiction. What was the US afraid of? Today the Supreme Court held that it has jurisdiction and granted leave to appeal. Merry Christmas!”

Meanwhile, Dotcom’s US attorney Ira Rothken added: “We are pleased that the New Zealand Supreme Court granted review of the US extradition case against Kim Dotcom. We believe that the court will find that cloud storage providers cannot be held criminally liable for user copyright infringements under NZ law”.

And so the case continues!