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​Kim Dotcom eligible for extradition to US in Megaupload case

After years in court, the US Government may soon have their Piracy Enemy No. 1 on home soil.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom in court in New Zealand.
Fiona Goodall/Getty

It might be time for Kim Dotcom to pack his bags.

The founder of the now-defunct file-sharing site Megaupload faced a significant setback in his piracy battle in the New Zealand High Court today, with Justice Murray Gilbert finding Dotcom and his co-accused eligible for extradition to the United States over copyright offences.

The United States Government has been fighting for the extradition of Dotcom, alongside Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato, since 2012. The group are wanted for trial in the US on 13 counts, including copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud.

The US Department of Justice and the FBI shut down Megaupload in 2012, charging the site's operators with the piracy-related offences. Officials seized $42 million in assets and raided Dotcom's mansion, but as a New Zealand resident, Dotcom was able to escape the grasp of US authorities.

Now, the New Zealand High Court has upheld a previous decision by the country's District Court, clearing the way for the four to be extradited and face charges in the US.

But in a twist for a legal battle that is regarded as one the most significant piracy cases in recent years, the four men also had a small victory.

Justice Gilbert found that "making copyright works available to members of the public via the internet" is not criminalised under the New Zealand Copyright Act -- contrary to the earlier findings of the District Court. According to a statement from the High Court, the four men had therefore "succeeded with one of the main planks of their case."

Despite this finding, Justice Gilbert noted that the same conduct was an offence under the Crimes Act. He also found that one of the counts faced by the men, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, "amounts to a conspiracy to defraud" which is an extradition offence under the US-New Zealand Treaty.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Dotcom's lawyer Ron Mansfield contested Justice Gilbert's judgement.

"To win the major plank of the case but to get that outcome is extremely disappointing," he said. "It is hard to accept the logic that, if the conduct that all accept at its heart relates to assertions of breach of copyright... how it can nonetheless be massaged into a general fraud offence."