Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is eligible to be extradited to the US, a New Zealand court has ruled, bringing the German-born millionaire closer to facing charges of racketeering and copyright violation on American soil.
New Zealand's Court of Appeal on Thursday dismissed an anti-extradition claim placed by internet mogul Kim Dotcom, and upheld an earlier verdict that stated the 44-year-old could be deported to the US.
In the case relating to criminal charges against Dotcom and his associates, the US delivered evidence suggesting that "the appellants conspired to, and did, breach copyright willfully and on a large scale, for their commercial gain," the court said.
Dotcom's lawyers said they would appeal the Thursday decision before New Zealand's highest judicial body.
"We look forward to seeking review with the New Zealand Supreme Court. We think that ultimately Kim Dotcom will prevail," Ira Rothken told the Reuters news agency.
If extradited to the US, the internet entrepreneur would face charges of racketeering and copyright infringement over his now defunct file-sharing platform Megaupload. The charges carry a risk of a decades-long prison term. Dotcom has been fighting the extradition ever since the FBI shut down his digital empire in 2012.
Dotcom's legal team has argued that copyright infringement is not a criminal offense in New Zealand and that there was not enough evidence that Dotcom and other senior Megaupload managers conspired to commit a crime.
New Zealand pays for large-scale raid
Kim Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz in Germany, gained New Zealand residency in 2010 under a scheme offered by the government to wealthy citizens. He changed his last name to Dotcom in 2012.
In the same year, his New Zealand manssion was raided by armed police teams assisted by the American FBI. The police seized cash and millions in expensive property, including computers and luxury cars. Dotcom and his pregnant wife were held at gunpoint.
Dotcom responded by suing the New Zealand government and eventually wining a settlement in November last year.
dj/aw (AFP, Reuters)