The main programmer of Megaupload was granted bail today on restricted grounds including a ban on Internet access and no contact with his “Mega Conspiracy” co-accused currently resident overseas. Meanwhile, the family home of Mega founder Kim Dotcom has been seized by New Zealand authorities. Dotcom’s heavily pregnant wife and the couple’s three children will be allowed to stay – for now.
Bram van der Kolk, the lead programmer of the now-defunct Megaupload cyberlocker, last appeared in court on January 26th. Judge David McNaughton agreed to give the Dutch national bail but his release was delayed for a week while his home was assessed for surveillance equipment suitability.
Today, van der Kolk was back in the North Shore District Court before Judge Pippa Sinclair who considered what bail conditions should be set before finally releasing the 29-year-old.
Prosecutor Anne Toohey, the lawyer representing the US government, argued that as the site’s lead programmer, der Kolk was the most likely to try and set up a Megaupload replacement.
Lawyer for der Kolk, Guy Foley, said that was ridiculous, especially given the heavy surveillance his client would be subjected to by the FBI on his release.
Toohey said there was a risk that der Kolk would get in contact with his co-accused in the so-called “Mega Conspiracy” of which there are seven in total. Four are currently in New Zealand and three are in other countries – two of those are still at large.
Foley argued that der Kolk must be at least granted permission to speak with two of his co-accused in New Zealand since they all share the same lawyer and need to communicate in order to mount a defense.
Judge Sinclair decided that the networking expert could indeed be released but under strict conditions. First, der Kolk would be denied Internet access which means that his bail location and anyone living there may not have any devices with online access. Additionally, police were authorized to continuously monitor der Kolk’s ability to get online.
Der Kolk was also banned from speaking with any of his co-accused overseas, although he was given permission to speak with those currently held in New Zealand for the reasons outlined by Foley.
Finn Batato, the 38-year-old from Germany whose bail was granted in principle during January but delayed pending an assessment of his bail address, was also in court today.
The address given by Batato was the residence of Kim Dotcom’s wife, Mona, but she had not yet submitted the required paperwork due to illness. Batato’s hearing will now take place tomorrow.
Meanwhile, a smaller house located alongside ‘Dotcom Mansion’ was seized today by authorities. Dotcom’s heavily pregnant wife and their three children will be allowed to stay in the £3.6m property, at least for now.
Kim Dotcom is scheduled to appear in court February 22nd.