The Kim Dotcom saga continues with a New Zealand court ruling on Tuesday that his extradition hearing will now not take place until March 2013.
Authorities in the US are keen to question Dotcom, 38, about a number of online piracy offenses, including conspiring to commit money laundering, copyright infringement and aiding and abetting copyright infringement. The case has been described as a “mega conspiracy” that may have cost copyright holders as much as $500 million.
According to Reuters, Tuesday’s decision comes because of questions about the legitimacy of the evidence gathered from Dotcom’s home following his arrest, as the search warrants used in the operation were later ruled to be illegal.
A hearing regarding extradition proceedings had been set for next month, but that has now been shifted to March next year while two judicial reviews take place in relation to the illegal search warrants.
“It was inevitable that the hearing for August was going to be vacated because we have two existing cases in the High Court,” William Akel, a lawyer representing Dotcom, told Reuters. However, he said he was “disappointed” by the delay. “You obviously want the extradition case to go ahead as soon as you can, but you have to put up with the inevitable,” Akel said.
Commenting on the decision via his Twitter account, Dotcom said, “Extradition hearing delayed until March. Dirty delay tactics by the US. They destroyed my business. Took all my assets. Time does the rest.”
Dotcom, real name Kim Schmitz, set up the now-defunct Megaupload site back in 2005. The German-born Internet tycoon is accused of illegally distributing copyrighted material such as music and movie files, amassing a fortune through the sale of advertisements on his site in the process. Dotcom insists Megaupload was a legitimate website offering online storage.
Since his arrest in January, restrictions on the Megaupload founder have been gradually eased. After eventually being freed from prison on bail, courts have also dropped a ban on Internet use, and have allowed him to access some of his funds for living expenses. He’s also back in his luxury home in Coatesville, near Auckland, presumably not an uncomfortable place to wait until the authorities make a final decision on his extradition next year.