The founder of MegaUpload, Kim Dotcom, has been denied bail in an extradition hearing in New Zealand this morning. Dotcom, who was raided by 76 armed police in helicopters yesterday, is wanted in the United States alongside other key MegaUpload employees on racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering charges.
The drama and fallout from yesterday’s raids against the infrastructure of MegaUpload and its management team continued this morning when founder Kim Dotcom appeared in a New Zealand court.
Dotcom, a 37-year-old German citizen with joint New Zealand and Hong Kong residency, appeared alongside three other MegaUpload employees – site co-founder Mathias Ortmann, 40, chief marketing officer Finn Batato, 38, and programmer and networking expert Bram van der Kolk, 29.
The hearing in an Auckland district court heard how local police had been working with US authorities since 2011 culminating in raids yesterday on ten private and business locations. Among them was Kim’s residence, Dotcom Mansion, and what happened there resembles something from a movie.
New Zealand police sent 76 officers, some armed, to raid the property which reportedly housed 15 individuals including bodyguards, security staff, women and children.
“Police arrived in two marked police helicopters. Despite our staff clearly identifying themselves, Mr Dotcom retreated into the house and activated a number of electronic locking mechanisms,” Detective Inspector Grant Wormald told the court.
“While police neutralized these locks he then further barricaded himself into a safe room within the house which officers had to cut their way into,” Wormald added.
At the hearing, the first step to being extradited to the United States, all four defendants were denied bail and are due to reappear at another hearing next Monday. Police say there are no intentions of trying the defendants under local laws.
“This particular type of action around internet copyright infringement is a first in New Zealand in terms of an overseas person being attempted to be extradited to the United States,” said Intellectual Property Lawyer Rick Shera, as quoted by TVNZ.
Three other defendants – a German, a Slovakian and an Estonian – all remain at large.