It’s Official: US Demands Extradition of Megaupload Suspects

Authorities in the United States have put in an official request to extradite Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and the three other suspects in the "Mega Conspiracy." While the request doesn't come as a surprise, the prosecutors waited till the official deadline last Friday before filing the paperwork. It will take a while before the fate of the accused is decided, as the first extradition hearing is planned for August.

kimLast Friday, US prosecutors filed an extradition request against four New Zealand-based suspects who were allegedly part of the so-called “Mega Conspiracy.”

Kim Dotcom is wanted in the United States alongside other key Megaupload employees on racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering charges.

In the battle to extradite the defendants, US authorities intend to rely on a United Nations treaty aimed at combating international organized crime.

Previously a lawyer working on behalf of the United States government admitted that no copyright offenses are specifically listed in the extradition treaty. However, he also noted that certain offenses which involve transnational crime are covered by New Zealand’s Extradition Act.

In New Zealand crimes must carry a four year prison sentence to be deemed extraditable. Under the country’s Copyright Act, distributing an infringing work carries a five year maximum sentence.

Experts and observers are predicting that due to its groundbreaking status, the extradition battle for the Megaupload defendants will be both complex and prolonged, and could even go all the way to the Supreme Court.

For now, the first extradition hearing has been scheduled for August 20.

Megaupload programmer Bram van der Kolk recently called on the New Zealand authorities to remain dignified in their extradition dealings with the United States.

“I really hope New Zealand will keep its dignity and can show that it is a sovereign state that has its own justice system,” he said, referring to the extradition process.

Talking to TorrentFreak last week, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom said that he and his co-defendants are positive that the law is on their side.

“We’re going for this and we’re confident we’re going to win,” Kim said.

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