Founder of file-sharing site denies piracy
New Zealand judge declines to make decision on bail for Kim Dotcom of MegaUpload.com after his arrest on Friday.
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2012 07:13
MegaUpload.com founder Kim Dotcom, right, was arrested on Friday in a New Zealand raid[Reuters]

The founder of popular file-sharing website MegaUpload.com has denied charges of internet piracy and money laundering, three days after his arrest in the New Zealand city of Auckland.

Kim Dotcom, a German national also known as Kim Schmitz, appeared in court on Monday, demanding his release from prison on bail and stating his innocence.

His lawyer, Paul Davison, told the bail hearing that Dotcom, who has New Zealand and Hong Kong residency, had not been involved in any criminal activity.

"This is not a case where there will be any concession by Mr Dotcom," Davison told the North Shore District Court in Auckland. Davison added that Dotcom's company was only offering online storage. 

However, prosecutor Anne Toohey described Dotcom as an "extreme" flight risk and explained that he had fled to Thailand when he was previously wanted on charges in Germany.

She said electronic bail was also opposed as it would give Dotcom likely access to phones and the internet.

The judge, David McNaughton, declined to make an immediate decision on whether or not grant him bail.

McNaughton said the bail application was too complicated for an immediate ruling, adding he would issue a
written decision no later than Wednesday.

"Given the breadth of issues covered in this bail application and the seriousness of the issues, I am going to reserve my decision," the judge said.

Facing extradition

Working with US authorities, police in New Zealand arrested Dotcom with three other people during a raid on his home on Friday. He faces extradition to the United States to answer charges related to one of the largest ever cases of copyright theft.

The US government shut down MegaUpload.com, while its founder was arrested in New Zealand [Al Jazeera]

He is among seven people indicted by the US justice department and FBI, which said he was "responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through MegaUpload.com and other related sites".

Dotcom generated more than $175m in proceeds and caused more than $500m in harm to copyright owners by offering pirated copies of movies, TV programmes and other content, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, a report in the New Zealand Herald newspaper has detailed claims about Dotcom's alleged lavish lifestyle.

It reported that Dotcom ordered around $3.2m of renovations to the sprawling mansion that he leased near Auckland, with manicured lawns, fountains, pools, palm-lined paths and extensive security.

New Zealand police seized luxury cars worth US$4.8 million, including a 1959 pink Cadillac and a Rolls Royce Phantom, during Friday's raid on Dotcom's Auckland mansion.

The case comes with the issue of online piracy under discussion in Washington, where the US congress is trying to craft tougher legislation, prompting protests by those who argue that restrictions on the internet threaten free speech.

Al Jazeera and agencies
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