Tue, Jan 24, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Megaupload.com founder denies charges of piracy

AFP, WELLINGTON

The “Dotcom Mansion,” where four men were arrested on Friday in connection with the Megaupload.com Web site, is pictured in Coastville, Auckland.

Photo: AFP

The founder of file-sharing site Megaupload.com yesterday appeared in a New Zealand court, demanding to be released from prison and denying he had done anything illegal.

A judge reserved a decision until at least today on Kim Dotcom’s bail application as details emerged of his lavish champagne lifestyle involving fast cars and women while living in a mansion near Auckland.

Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, was arrested with three accomplices following a raid on his home on Friday and he faces extradition to the US to answer charges related to one of the largest ever cases of copyright theft.

He is among seven people indicted by the US Department of Justice and FBI, which said he is “responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through Megaupload.com and other related sites.”

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

Dotcom has vigorously denied all charges against him, with his lawyer Paul Davison telling the bail hearing the 37-year-old German, who has New Zealand and Hong Kong residency, has 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.

However, prosecutor Anne Toohey described Dotcom as an “extreme” flight risk, saying he had fled to Thailand when he was previously wanted on charges in Germany.

She said electronic bail was also opposed because it could give Dotcom access to phones and the Internet. Meanwhile, a report in the New Zealand Herald has detailed claims about Dotcom’s lifestyle — how he had a swimming pool filled with imported spring water.

And a documentary uploaded online shows Dotcom, surrounded by topless women and men spraying champagne on board a superyacht during a “crazy weekend” in Europe reported to have cost US$10 million.

“Fast cars, hot girls, superyachts and amazing parties. Decadence rules,” said the blurb accompanying the documentary, which Dotcom dedicated to “all my fans.”

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.

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