Prominent Legal Experts Rally Behind Megaupload

A group of prominent legal experts, including the Cato Institute, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Institute for Justice have come out in support of Megaupload and Kim Dotcom. The groups urge the appeals court to undo the forfeiture of millions of dollars in assets, which they describe as a dangerous violation of due process rights.

megaupload-logoEarlier this year the U.S. Government won its civil forfeiture case against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom.

As a result, the U.S. now owns Kim Dotcom’s bank accounts, cars, art and other property worth dozens of millions of dollars.

Last week Megaupload’s legal team filed its appeal brief, hoping to undo the District Court’s decision, pointing out that the court denied the defendants’ basic rights and violated due process

According to the defense team the court was wrong to label Dotcom and his colleagues as fugitives, a claim which is now supported by several legal experts.

A few hours ago the Cato Institute, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Institute for Justice submitted an independent brief in support of Megaupload.

“… the federal government’s aggressive use of forfeiture poses a grave threat to property rights and can cause irreparable injury when property is forfeited without any hearing,” the groups write (pdf).

The legal experts sum up a variety of reasons why the Megaupload defendants should not be branded fugitives and note that the District Court’s decision is dangerous and unconstitutional.

“Stripping the claimants of their due process rights isn’t just unconstitutional, it’s dangerous. There’s a growing literature on the abuse of civil forfeiture and those abuses are directly tied to the protections given to the claimants here, as well as the ability of government officials to directly benefit from forfeitures,” they write.

Continuing their brief, the legal experts suggest the Department of Justice was not happy with how the case was proceeding, and that they went after the assets to turn the case in their favor.

“Not content to hold the best hand in this card game a U.S. Attorney’s office with extensive resources and privileges the government has decided that the other side should be forced to relinquish its chips before the game even begins.”

“This Court should not countenance such a gross violation of due process,” they add, asking the court to overturn the District Court decision.

Kim Dotcom is glad to see the support of the legal experts and is confident that his team will win the appeal.

“I’m grateful for the support from these respected organizations. It is good to see that there are groups of legal experts in the United States that hold the Government to account and combat the abuse of power and prosecutorial overreach,” Dotcom tells TF.

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