New Zealand’s highest court has ruled internet entrepreneur Dotcom and three others liable for extradition on all but one count – but they had been wrongly denied a judicial review, so that will need to be heard before it goes to the minister.
What has the Supreme Court ruled?
The court has ruled that Kim Dotcom and three others are liable for extradition on 12 of the 13 counts on which they are sought – that count being the money laundering charge.
The court has, however, ruled that the Court of Appeal erred in dismissing judicial review requests. Dotcom and co has sought a judicial review relating to what they believed were procedural and substantive errors by the District Court.
So what happens now?
As has become customary in the unwieldy saga of the United States versus Kim Dotcom, the can has been kicked down the legal path. A judicial review of the above will ensue.
What was the Supreme Court deciding?
In essence, whether there is enough of a prima facie case for Dotcom to face the charges in court in the US – but also whether there was “double criminality”, that is, does the evidence suggest a case would meet the threshold for mounting a prosecution in a New Zealand court.
Why is he wanted for extradition?
The US alleged that the German-born Dotcom and his associates were breaching copyright laws and undertaking money laundering and racketeering through their file-sharing service Megaupload – a site replete with movies and music and which, Dotcom boasted, was responsible for “four per cent, of the internet” as far as traffic was concerned. He always insisted, however, that Megaupload removed content in breach of copyright when they were alerted to its existence.
They wanted Dotcom and three others extradited to the US to face those charges, which led to the men’s arrest early in 2012 in New Zealand, where they had been based since 2010.
Who are the three others?
Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, both of whom continue to work for Mega, the offspring of Megaupload, and Finn Batato.
What have all the court battles been about?
There have been seemingly endless legal wrangles, with the case bouncing around the various levels of the court system. The District Court ruled in 2015 that he could be extradited. Subsequent appeals in the High Court and the Court of Appeal were dismissed.
What about the illegal spying?
Following the raid on Dotcom’s home, it emerged that the GCSB had illegally spied on Dotcom – wrongly believing him to be exempt from the “don’t spy on permanent residents” rule that was in place at the time. John Key, through clenched teeth, apologied. In 2013 the two men had that unforgettable horn-lock at a parliamentary select committee. “Why are you red, prime minister?” said Dotcom. “I’m not. Why are you sweating?” said Key. Ah, the memories.
Dotcom’s effort to sue for damages over the GCSB’s actions sent another series of actions whirling through the judiciary.
What happens next?
Both sides have been asked to identify what needs resolving at the judicial review, and which court should do the resolving. If the judicial review doesn’t go Dotcom and co’s way, they’ll be deemed extraditable on all counts but the money laundering stuff.
Extraditable is a ghastly word, never use it again.
And then what?
New Zealand law stipulates that once the courts have determined someone is liable for extradition, the matter goes to the minister of justice to sign the warrant off. Kris Faafoi will be signed in as minister of justice on Friday. Welcome to the new role, Mr Faafoi, there’s a file on your desk.
Take us back. When did Kim Dotcom become a thing?
Dotcom leapt into the consciousnesses of New Zealanders when New Zealand forces leapt into his mansion in north Auckland on January 20 2012. It seemed fitting for the Hollywoodesque, ostentatious image Dotcom and his crew projected, but weird and excessive as far as New Zealand’s usual manner of arresting people is concerned.
What happened next?
A string of court appearances, along with an extended period as celebrity, comedy outlaw and even politician, with the launch of the Internet Party, and the extraordinary Moment of Truth spectacle at the Auckland Town Hall in the election campaign of 2014, when Dotcom assembled the likes of Glenn Greenwald and, on the big-screen, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, to denounce John Key and allege immoral and unlawful actions on the part of the New Zealand intelligence services.
Is Dotcom still in Auckland?
No. He now lives in a more modest, but still pretty fancy, house in Queenstown, with his third wife, New Zealander Liz Dotcom, and his five children.
And if the minister does sign an extradition warrant, that’s it?
Of course not. Even if the extradition warrant is signed, it is “entirely possible”, Victoria University law professor Geoff McLay told RNZ this morning, that he could seek a judicial review of the minister’s decision and end up back in the Supreme Court in a few years’ time.
The Spinoff Daily gets you all the day's best reading in one handy package, fresh to your inbox Monday-Friday at 5pm.