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Livestream of Dotcom case

August 29, 2016

Kim Dotcom's extradition appeal hearing has begun before a New Zealand court. A judge has yet to decide whether to allow livestreaming of the high-profile trial, which Dotcom argues would ensure transparency.

Screeenshot Twitter Kim Dotcom
Image: Twitter/KimDotcom

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom launched his appeal Monday against extradition to the United States to face charges of copyright violations, arguing that his trial in New Zealand to be livestreamed to ensure fairness.

A German national and founder of the Megaupload filesharing service, Dotcom has permanent residency in New Zealand, though he faces up to 20 years in jail in the US if convicted of piracy there.

His lawyer, Ron Mansfield, told the court the case raised "unprecedented issues of public and international interest" and it would not be a fair hearing without livestreaming.

Mansfield said conventional reporting was unlikely to cover all aspects of a case that has attracted global attention and could be "unbalanced." Furthermore, he added, streaming has been permitted in previous court cases and inquiries in New Zealand.

However, Judge Murray Gilbert delayed making an immediate decision, saying he wanted to give other media representatives a chance to consider Dotcom's request and make submissions.

File-storage inventors

The extradition appeal is expected to run for eight weeks with Dotcom saying if he loses he will continue to use legal channels to fight extradition.

The FBI, which has jurisdiction over copyright infringement, alleges Dotcom and his co-conspirators deprived the owners of movie and music rights of more than $500 million (443 million euros) while pocketing over $175 million in ad revenue and premium subscription sales from Megaupload, once the 13th most popular site on the internet.

A lawyer for two of Dotcom's co-accused - Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk - told the court Monday they were simply part of a group who "invented file storage." Dotcom likewise insists he did nothing illegal by making a website available where users could freely share files.

He said the men have been falsely accused of wrongdoing by the United States government and unfairly subjected to "grossly excessive search and seizure operations."

Dotcom has accused US authorities of pursuing a vendetta against him on behalf of politically influential Hollywood studios. He has announced plans to relaunch his Megaupload empire in January, exactly five years after it was shut down.

uhe/cjc (AFP, Reuters)