Megaupload Programmer Calls For Dignity In US Extradition Battle

The lead programmer of the now-defunct Megaupload file-hosting service says that he hopes New Zealand will keep its dignity in its extradition dealings with the United States. Bram van der Kolk, who was released on bail last week, says that New Zealand should remember it is a sovereign state with its own justice system. Today, Megaupload's chief marketing officer was also released on bail.

Following his arrest along with the rest of the Megaupload management team on January 19th, Bram van der Kolk endured three weeks in the custody of New Zealand authorities.

Der Kolk, a Dutch citizen who oversaw programming and network issues at the Hong Kong-based company, appeared in court several times in an attempt to obtain bail. Last week the 29-year-old was finally allowed to join his family on the outside, although Judge Pippa Sinclair imposed a number of restrictions including a complete Internet access ban.

Despite Der Kolk having his communication options reduced, at the weekend he managed to speak with the Sunday Star-Times from his home in Auckland.

The network expert said that although he was “flabbergasted” by the raids, he remains in love with New Zealand. Der Kolk hopes, however, that the country maintains its poise and self-respect in dealing with the United States and their extradition requirements.

“I really hope New Zealand will keep its dignity and can show that it is a sovereign state that has its own justice system,” he said.

While authorities in New Zealand insist the raids and arrests last month were carried out by the book, questions have been raised over the massive show of force. As revealed last week, the New Zealand government sent in heavily armed anti-terrorist police to detain the management team of Megaupload, none of which have any history of violence.

Der Kolk told the Star-Times that he’d never even been in trouble with the police before and that being held in prison for 3 weeks was a new and harsh experience, fortunately made easier with help from sympathetic guards.

Previously, Finn Batato, a citizen of Germany and Mega’s chief marketing officer, was granted bail but his release was delayed due to technical issues surrounding his bail monitoring. Those were eventually overcome and the 38-year-old, who also has no criminal record, was released today to live at the same location as der Kolk.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and co-founder and director of Mathias Ortmann remain in custody.

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