Judge orders US Government to disclose crucial Megaupload evidence

By Lee Kaelin on

Kim Dotcom, the founder of the now-defunct file-sharing service Megaupload scored a minor yet important victory yesterday, after a New Zealand Judge ruled that the U.S. Government must hand over the evidence they have against Megaupload so Kim Dotcom and other employees can properly defend themselves.

In his 81-page court decision (PDF), New Zealand District Judge David Harvey ordered the United States of America to furnish evidence requested by Dotcom's lawyers in order to prepare for the upcoming extradition hearing on August 6. The Judge rejected the US Government's claims that the defendants could make do with the previously supplied information it had chosen to introduce in court.

Dotcom's attorney Ira Rothken argued that they were entitled to disclosure of evidence, as the extradition hearing and the potential subsequent legal proceedings in the US were closely linked. The US Government is required to prove it has a plausible case against the Megauploader founder and its managers before they can be extradited. They opposed the application but the Judge sided with the defense.

The court decision orders the US Government to disclose all evidence to Dotcom relating to the charges of criminal breach of copyright, money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud within 21 days.

"A denial of the provision of information that could enable a proper adversarial hearing in my view would amount to a denial of the opportunity to contest and that would effectively mean that the process is one sided," Judge Harvey said. "In my view there must be fairness at the hearing and a balance must be struck, otherwise the ROC (record of case) becomes dominant virtually to the exclusion of everything else and places the extradition process in danger of becoming an administrative one rather than judicial."

In a separate hearing on the same day, Dotcom was granted variations to his bail conditions by Judge Harvey, giving him permission to return to his mansion, as well as the removal of his tracking anklet. After having the tracker fitted he had to move to a house nearby, due to it not working in his normal residence.

"I'm really happy about the decision and I'm going to comply with everything the court is asking," Dotcom said in a statement shortly after hearing the decision. "I will be able to move back with my family into our home - the kids and my wife are always asking. I'm looking forward to that."

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