Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is demanding access to 135 computers and hard drives that were seized from his home in January, so the data can be used for his defense. Until then, he refuses to give up passwords to encrypted data stored on the machines. Dotcom’s legal team is challenging the legality of the search warrants at the High Court in Auckland and is accusing the US Government of an unfair fight.
Megaupload continues its legal battle, both in the US and New Zealand.
This week Dotcom and his legal team were at Auckland’s High Court to request a judicial review of the legality of the search warrants that were used to raid his Coatesville mansion in January.
During the hearing Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison demanded access to the data stored on the 135 computers and hard drives that were taken into custody.
The lawyer argued that the data is needed to mount a proper defense. Not only to fight the extradition, but also to show that “excessive police action’ was used during the raid. The raid was captured by CCTV data which is stored on the computers in question.
The FBI, however, is objecting to the data handover because some of the files are encrypted. Megaupload’s founder is refusing to hand over the passwords to these files before he’s guaranteed access to the data himself, supervised by the court if needed.
During the hearing Dotcom and his legal team also learned that the data stored on the computers has already been sent to the U.S. authorities. Previously the court had offered assurances that this would not happen without prior warning.
Davison responded to these revelations by saying that the process was “off the rails” and that the rights of Megaupload’s founder have been “subverted”.
Talking to Radio New Zealand, Dotcom’s lawyer Ira Rothken suggests foul play, and alleges that the U.S. Government is trying to get valuable evidence out of New Zealand to obstruct a successful defense.
“Our concerns are that the United States will have New Zealand take all the data and all the hard drives that have been confiscated and remove them from the New Zealand jurisdiction, essentially making it so the New Zealand judiciary cannot exercise New Zealand’s views, New Zealand’s values in fairness and due process, and bring it all over to the United States so that it cannot be used in the extradition hearing.”
The hearings had an emotional affect on the Megaupload founder. When his lawyer recalled how Dotcom was “ripped from his family” in January in a raid which may not have been legitimate, he had to wipe tears from his eyes.
Outside the court Dotcom commented on his emotional reaction.
“It’s just remembering what happened to us which I think was unfair and over the top. It just got to me. I’m just a human being, you know?” he told reporters.
Now that the hearings are over it is up to Judge Winkelmann to decide whether Megaupload’s founder can have access to his personal data, and to decide on the possible judicial review into the legality of the search warrants.
Meanwhile, the U.S. criminal case has gone relatively silent.
Dotcom told TorrentFreak that his legal team is working hard on a reply to the indictment where the “Mega Conspiracy” is accused of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement.
Whether Megaupload will have to defend itself in the U.S. is still uncertain though. Last month Judge O’Grady informed the FBI that a trial in the United States may never happen because it is impossible to serve a foreign company with criminal charges.