Megaupload’s Dotcom offers to go to US voluntarily – conditions attached

Kim Dotcom Instagram ImageDisappointed that his extradition hearing was postponed by a New Zealand court until March next year, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom told the FBI via his Twitter account that he and his legal team were prepared to go to the US voluntarily, as long as certain conditions are met.

“Hey DOJ, we will go the US. No need for extradition. We want bail, funds unfrozen for lawyers & living expenses,” the 38-year-old Internet tycoon tweeted from his home in Coatesville, New Zealand.

Dotcom, together with three others, are wanted for questioning by the US authorities regarding online piracy offenses, which include conspiring to commit money laundering, copyright infringement and aiding and abetting copyright infringement. It’s claimed that the alleged offenses have cost copyright holders as much as $500 million.

Since his arrest in New Zealand in January, efforts have been underway to extradite German-born Dotcom. However, on Tuesday it was decided to postpone his extradition hearing until March 2013 as the search warrants used to gather evidence from his home were later ruled to be illegal. The delay gives time for two judicial reviews to take place in relation to the illegal search warrants. 

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald following the postponement of his extradition hearing, Dotcom said he was having trouble funding his legal team, comprising a sizable 22 lawyers. “They are sitting on all my money,” he said of the authorities. “I have no money to pay my lawyers. Every move they make, they know I have to send my lawyers there. They make it so I have no chance in the long run to defend myself. Lawyers need money too.”

In a another interview, Dotcom told The Hollywood Reporter that “dirty delay tactics” were being used by the US government, with help from the New Zealand authorities.

“The actions by the [United States Department of Justice] clearly demonstrate that they don’t have a case and that this….was about killing Megaupload and creating a chilling effect to freeze the whole file-hosting sector,” Dotcom said. “They achieved that. I don’t think they are prepared for the wave that’s coming to them now.”

Dotcom, real name Kim Schmitz, launched the now-closed Megaupload site in 2005. Although he is accused of illegally distributing copyrighted material such as music and movie files, he has always maintained it was a legitimate operation offering online storage. Advertisements sold on the site netted him millions of dollars and afforded him a lavish lifestyle.

Dotcom’s offer to go to the US voluntarily is certainly an interesting one, and sends out a message that he’s confident he has a strong case. However, whether the US authorities are in a position to bow to his conditions, or enter into some form of negotiation in order to expedite his case, remains to be seen.