In 2012, file-hosting site Megaupload was shut down by the United States government and founder Kim Dotcom and his associates were arrested in New Zealand.
Ever since, the US government has sought to extradite Dotcom on several counts including copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering. Dotcom has fought them every single step of the way.
One of the key areas of conflict has been the validity of the search warrants used to raid his Coatesville home on January 20, 2012. The fight has been meticulous and lengthy but in 2014, following appeals to lower courts, the Supreme Court finally dismissed Dotcom’s appeals that the search warrants weren’t valid.
Following a three-month hearing, the District Court later found that Dotcom was eligible for extradition. Dotcom appealed again but in February 2017 the High Court ruled that the entrepreneur could indeed be transferred to the United States.
Dotcom subsequently appealed the High Court decision to the Court of Appeal, a hearing that will go ahead in February 2018. Last summer, the Megaupload founder also “attacked the underpinnings of the extradition process” by filing an eight-point statement of claim for judicial review. This morning the High Court handed down its decision and it looks like bad news for Dotcom
The causes of action presented by the Megaupload founder were varied but began by targeting the validity of the arrest warrants used in January 2012 and by extension every subsequent process, including the extradition effort itself.
“Accordingly, the relief sought includes orders that the extradition proceeding be quashed or set aside and that Mr Dotcom be discharged,” the ruling reads.
However, the Court describes this argument as an abuse of process, noting that the Supreme Court has already upheld the validity of the search warrants and a High Court ruling confirmed the District Court’s finding that Dotcom is eligible for extradition, a process that will soon head to the Court of Appeal.
But Dotcom’s arguments continued, with attacks on the validity of search warrants and a request to quash them and return all property seized under their authority. Another point asserted that a US request to seize Dotcom’s assets in New Zealand was invalid because no extraditable offense had been committed.
Unfortunately for Dotcom, none of his detailed arguments gained traction with the Hight Court. In his decision, Justice Timothy Brewer sides with the US government which previously described the efforts as “collateral attacks on previous decisions of the Courts and an attempt to pre-empt Mr Dotcom’s appeal.”
The Judge eventually rejected seven out of the eight causes of action in a 22-page ruling (pdf) published this morning.
“I have granted the USA’s application to strike out causes of action 1 to 7 of the statement of claim for judicial review dated 21 July 2017. The proceeding is now ‘live’ only in relation to the eighth cause of action,” Justice Brewer writes.
“I direct that the proceeding be listed for mention in relation to the eighth cause of action in the duty list at 10:00 am on 7 February 2018.”
The eighth point, which wasn’t challenged by the US, concerns the “decision by the Deputy Solicitor-General in June 2017 to direct that clones be made of the electronic devices seized from Mr Dotcom’s homes and that they be sent to the USA.”
A few minutes ago, Dotcom took to Twitter with an apparent upbeat reference to the ruling.
Sometimes what looks like a loss is really a win ?
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) December 15, 2017
Like all things Dotcom, the show won’t be over until every last stone has been unturned. Next stop, Court of Appeal in February.