The New Zealand High Court has upheld an earlier District Court ruling that ordered the United States to show Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his legal team the evidence it has ahead of a March 2013 extradition hearing.
Dotcom and his associates — Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato and Mathias Ortmann — are wanted in the US state of Virginia to face allegations of large scale secondary copyright infringement through filesharing. All are currently on bail.
Yesterday, Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled that if Dotcom and his co-accused weren't allowed to see the evidence that allegedly supports their extradition to the United States, their position in the extradition hearing would be "significantly constrained".
Likewise, the US would have a "significant advantage" if the evidence was not shown, Winkelmann said.
Winkelmann ruled Dotcom and his associates were entitled to protection under the New Zealand Bill of Rights law, which ensures residents of the country a fair trial.
Through New Zealand Crown lawyers, the United States had argued that the Bill of Rights didn't apply to extradition requests.
Crown lawyer John Pike had argued that the US Government would not have to disclose the information it has gathered on Dotcom and Megaupload.
Pike claimed the only thing that needed to be proved was that the case is strong enough so that a jury would reasonably convict the four accused.
Dotcom's US lawyer Ira Rothken, while welcoming the latest win, expected the US to "appeal the judgment and further delay the extradition hearing".
Asked how long the US could continue stalling, Rothken said: "The appeals will go to the New Zealand Supreme Court, and we fully expect them to do so."
Dotcom's legal fees already stand at $2 million and in a separate hearing, he is seeking to thaw assets to pay for his defence, including an $8 million government bond that was paid in as a condition for residence in New Zealand.
Rothken told iTnews that "the Megaupload case is the largest copyright legal action in history and it would be logical to unfreeze the assets to pay lawyers to analyse it".
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