Michael Bradley/AFPOn Friday the High Court of New Zealand ordered police to go through all of the digital material taken from Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom in a January 2012 raid and return anything irrelevant to their investigation.
And boy is Dotcom pleased.
The ruling is the latest legal victory for the 39-year-old dual citizen of Germany and Finland, who is fighting extradition to the U.S. relating to charges including engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement.
In June 2012 Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann ruled that the search warrants used in the raid on Dotcom's estate — requested by the FBI and carried out by the New Zealand police Special Tactics Group — were overly broad, and therefore illegal.
In Friday's decision Winkelmann reiterated that point, adding that the faulty warrants " has given rise to a miscarriage of justice."
Since the warrants did not allow for the offshore shipment of the hard drives without checking if they contained relevant material, any device found to contain irrelevant material must be returned to the plaintiffs and any copy destroyed.
Before it was shut down in January 2012, the file-sharing site Megaupload was one of the world's most popular websites — millions of users stored data, either for free or by paying for premium service. The site carried 4 percent of internet traffic.
Dotcom has since established the site kim.com in defiance of the prosecution in addition to creating a new, simplified, super-encrypted successor to Megaupload called MEGA.
He also recently released a white paper that provides a legal argument for his innocence:
“The prosecution seeks to hold Megaupload and its executives criminally responsible for alleged infringement by the company’s third-party cloud storage users. The problem with the theory, however, is that secondary copyright infringement is not – nor has it ever been – a crime in the United States.”
The two-bit phone hacker turned tech playboy seems quite pleased with the latest decision:
BREAKING NEWS: High Court: FBI has to return hard drives unlawfully removed from New Zealand + NZ Police has to return my data— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 31, 2013
#Megaupload case to-do list:✔ Get bail & Internet access✔ Expose the perpetrators✔ Get my data back❒Get user data back❒Victory!— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 31, 2013
Court rulings in favor of #Megaupload:✔ New Zealand✔ Germany✔ Canada❒United States (pending)Justice delayed is justice denied.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 31, 2013
Can't wait to get my data back from the FBI. I will then release exonerating evidence. Evidence the prosecution knew about before the raid.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 31, 2013
Mike Masnick of Techdirt notes that FBI may completely ignore the order, and that would further complicate the extradition case.
The extradition hearing has already been postponed from March to August, and the Kiwi outlet Stuff notes that it is likely to be delayed again given the complexity of the case.
In the meantime the New Zealand Supreme Court is expected to hear an appeal to determine whether Dotcom should have access to documents — including nearly 22 million emails — seized in the raid. About $42 million in assets were also seized.
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