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Megaupload’s Dotcom released on bail by New Zealand court

kimdotcom-arrestedAfter a month in a New Zealand jail, the man behind the now defunct Megaupload file-sharing site, Kim Dotcom, has been released on bail.

Dotcom was arrested by New Zealand police on January 20 following a request by the US authorities who want to speak to the German national in connection with a number of Internet piracy offenses, believed to have cost copyright holders somewhere in the region of $500 million.

Up to now, Dotcom had been refused bail by the courts on several occasions because it was thought he may use his significant funds to flee New Zealand and head to his home country of Germany, where he would be protected from extradition to the US.

However, the New Zealand Herald reported that on Wednesday the court reached a different conclusion, stating that it believed most of his funds had now been seized and therefore he was no longer a flight risk. The judge added, “It would seem that he has every reason to stay (in New Zealand) to be with his family and to fight to keep his significant assets.”

Bail was granted on the condition that he doesn’t use the Internet and that he reside at his luxury Coatesville home, located just north of Auckland. He has also been prohibited from traveling more than 50 miles from his property.

So what next for Dotcom? NZ Newswire reports that the US government hasn’t yet filed any extradition papers with the authorities in New Zealand. The deadline for such a filing is March 5. Assuming the US does go ahead with the extradition request, a hearing is unlikely to take place until the middle of August.

The charges against 38-year-old Dotcom and three of his associates have been piling up over the last month, ranging from copyright infringement to money laundering. Authorities in the US have described it as the biggest Internet piracy case it’s ever had to deal with.