Kim Dotcom's Mega-Extradition Hearing Will Be Livestreamed
Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom will be allowed to livestream his legal bid to halt his extradition to the United States, a New Zealand judge ruled Tuesday.
Dotcom and three of his colleagues are appealing a December lower-court decision which allows them to be extradited to the U.S. to face conspiracy, racketeering and money-laundering charges. If found guilty, they could face decades in jail.
Dotcom's lawyer Ira Rothken told The Associated Press he was pleased with the decision.
"It provides everybody in the world with a seat in the gallery of the New Zealand courtroom," Rothken said. "It's democracy at its finest."
Rothken said the livestreaming would begin Wednesday on YouTube. He said there would be a 20-minute delay to prevent any evidence that was protected by the court from becoming public. The appeal is expected to last six weeks.
In an interview with the BBC, Dotcom said he pushed for a livestream because he felt previous hearings were filled with "deception, dishonesty and I thought it would be nice if people could actually see this stuff."
Justice Murray Gilbert, the New Zealand judge hearing the appeal, had asked other media about Dotcom's request and didn't receive any objections. Rothken said the U.S. had opposed the plan on the basis it could taint a potential jury pool and could cede court control over evidence.
December's lower-court ruling came nearly four years after the U.S. shut down Dotcom's file-sharing site Megaupload, which prosecutors say was widely used by people to illegally download songs, television shows and movies.
Megaupload was once one of the internet's most popular sites. Prosecutors say it raked in at least $175 million and cost copyright holders more than $500 million.
But Dotcom and colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato argue they can't be held responsible for people who chose to use the site for illegal purposes.
Rothken said the lower-court judge made an error of law in his ruling, and that broad safe-harbor provisions protect internet service providers from the types of charges his clients face.
Live streaming of my hearing is a milestone. We're breaking new ground. Please treat the court with respect. Let's make this the new normal.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) August 30, 2016
Lawyers acting for the U.S. in New Zealand have declined to comment on the case while it's being litigated.
Born in Germany as Kim Schmitz, Dotcom has long enjoyed a flamboyant lifestyle. He was arrested in New Zealand in 2012 after a dramatic police raid on his mansion.
Out on bail soon after, he released a music album, started another Internet file-sharing company called Mega, and launched a political party which unsuccessfully contested the nation's 2014 election.
More recently, Dotcom has promised to launch a reboot of Megaupload next year.