U.S. Attorney: Biden hands-off in MegaUpload bust

Representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office that filed the MegaUpload indictment deny Kim DotCom's allegations that the U.S. vice president had any involvement in the case.

The federal courthouse for the Eastern District of Virginia, where MegaUpload's case is being heard. Greg Sandoval/CNET

Vice President Joe Biden did not orchestrate the criminal case against MegaUpload, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Kim DotCom, the founder of MegaUpload, a cloud storage service accused of trafficking in pirated materials, said this week that he has proof Biden ordered the prosecution against him and six other MegaUpload managers.

"There was no White House involvement in the decision to charge this case," the office of Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, wrote in an brief e-mail to CNET. MacBride is the federal prosecutor who filed a criminal indictment against DotCom on January 5. He is also the former antipiracy enforcer for the Business Software Alliance.

MegaUpload was once the most popular cloud storage service in the world. The U.S. alleges that DotCom encouraged users to upload pirated videos, music, and other digital media to the company's lockers and share it with one another. Because of the size of the site, the flamboyancy of founder DotCom, and the possible chilling effect on cloud lockers a prosecution might have, the case is being closely watched.

DotCom was arrested in New Zealand on January 19. His possessions were confiscated, and he and six other alleged accomplices were jailed. DotCom and the others accused are out on bail and preparing to fight attempts by the U.S. government to extradite them to this country to stand trial. DotCom is charged with copyright violations, wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy.

Since his release, DotCom has attempted to fight the allegations against him in court as well as in public. He has made good use of Twitter and his ability to draw celebrities to this side.

In addition, DotCom has begun attacking his accusers in the press. According to the interview DotCom gave TorrentFreak, a blog that covers online file sharing, he says he has proof that Biden ordered MacBride to act against MegaUpload. In the past, the White House has promised to do more to fight piracy.

DotCom says he will reveal the proof of Biden's involvement at the appropriate time. In addition to MacBride's denial, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) denied a separate DotCom allegation that the top studio chiefs met a year ago with Biden at the White House to discuss MegaUpload.

The MPAA said yesterday that the meeting was to help Biden prepare for a trip to China where he sought trade concessions on behalf of the studios. Records do show that the studio chiefs visited the White House but they also show that Biden left a few weeks later for China. In February, China announced that it would allow the studios to distribute more films.

So, it appears the battle of credibility will come down to what kind of information DotCom can produce to support his claims.

 

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