Today, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom appeared at New Zealand’s High Court to continue his fight against extradition to the United States on copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering charges.
Dotcom has been held in custody since dozens of police raided his Coatesville mansion last month following a lengthy FBI investigation.
During the day-long hearing before Justice Asher, Dotcom’s lawyer, Paul Davison QC, appealed a decision by Judge McNaughton in the Auckland District Court last week which denied the 38-year-old German national bail.
Judge McNaughton had concluded that with all his resources, Dotcom posed a “significant” flight risk.
The defense said that Dotcom has several health-related conditions – one of which is thought to be diabetes – which cannot be properly dealt in prison, adding that the Megaupload founder wanted to be able to spend time with his wife who is currently carrying twins.
Just because Dotcom had access to a helicopter and private jet, Davison added, it did not follow that he would seek to use them to flee the country.
When it was Dotcom’s turn to take the stand he told the Court that during his high-profile arrest last month, police had assaulted him after finding him in a secure panic-room known as the “Red Room”.
“I was punched in the face, I was kicked down on the floor,” Dotcom said. “One guy was standing on my hand so my nail was ruptured and my hand was bleeding, it was quite aggressive.”
Dotcom also told of how that during his time in prison he had received “funny visits”, phone calls and contacts from people he had never heard of including a succession of women wanting to be his friend.
One unsolicited telephone call claimed he was a prosecutor who in return for receiving some money would help Dotcom get bail
“I immediately said ‘absolutely not’ and I gave the number to the officer,” Dotcom said.
Another, the court was told, was said to be an expert document forger.
“If people were to approach me and to offer such a service, I would tell them to go to hell,” Dotcom said. “I have no desire to run away.”
But lawyer for the United States government, Anne Toohey, said that the chances of the New Zealand resident fleeing were too high, a point on which the court eventually agreed.
Describing Dotcom as “an extreme flight risk”, Justice Asher again denied bail. Dotcom is set to appear in court again on February 22nd for an extradition hearing.