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MegaUpload founder released on bail

In a surprise move, a New Zealand court releases Kim DotCom after concluding that the accused Internet pirate was not enough of a flight risk.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
Photo of Kim DotCom, MegaUpload's founder, prior to testifying during a previous bail hearing. Tvnz.co.nz

Kim DotCom, founder of cyberlocker MegaUpload, has been released on bail, according to media reports out of New Zealand.

After DotCom was indicted in the United States for criminal copyright violations and racketeering, he was arrested last month at the mansion he leases near Auckland, New Zealand, following a sensational police raid. Millions in cash, cars, and other possessions belonging to DotCom were seized.

Since then, two judges in New Zealand had denied his previous requests for bail. The judge who heard DotCom's request today, however, decided the defendant was not enough of a flight risk to keep in custody.

The judge said police had not proven that the 38-year-old had enough assets remaining to help him flee the country. In addition, authorities previously believed that the United States didn't have extradition treaties with Germany and Finland, the countries where DotCom is a citizen. That isn't accurate, according to recent media reports.

The U.S. government is seeking to bring DotCom and six others associated with MegaUpload to this country to stand trial. At DotCom's earlier bail hearings, lawyers representing the United States said they feared if freed, DotCom was likely to have hidden money that authorities weren't able to find and he could use this to leave the country.

A representative for the U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment.

DotCom denied that he wants to be anywhere other than with his family in New Zealand. He has said he wants to stand and fight the charges against him.

DotCom's extradition hearing was initially scheduled to begin today, but U.S. officials have yet to file their paperwork with the court, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia told CNET today.

The U.S. has until March 2 to file.

In previous interviews, Ira Rothken, one of DotCom's attorneys, blasted U.S. officials for filing criminal charges in a matter that he argues was nothing more than a civil dispute, and keeping DotCom in jail where it would be difficult for him to mount a defense.