Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Kim Dotcom offers to go to US to answer charges

Reuters, WELLINGTON

Kim Dotcom, the Internet tycoon at the center of a US investigation into online piracy and fraud, said yesterday he was willing to go to the US to clear his name, offering to forgo a pending extradition hearing in New Zealand.

Dotcom, the founder of the Megaupload file-sharing site, challenged the FBI to a fair trial and said he was willing to face them in court in the US if they agreed to certain conditions.

“Hey DOJ [Department of Justice], we will go to the US. No need for extradition,” Dotcom, a 38-year-old German national who also goes by Kim Schmitz, posted on Twitter.

“We want bail, funds unfrozen for lawyers and living expenses,” he added, referring to himself and three others facing the US charges.

In its highest-profile investigation into online piracy, the FBI alleges Dotcom led a group that has netted US$175 million since 2005 by copying and distributing music, movies and other copyrighted content without authorization.

His lawyers say the company simply offered online storage.

Dotcom’s offer comes a day after a New Zealand court delayed a hearing into the US extradition request until March next year because of ongoing legal hearings related to the search and seizure of evidence by the US.

The New Zealand High Court last month ruled that search warrants used by police to search the flamboyant Dotcom’s mansion to collect the evidence were illegal.

The court also ruled that the FBI’s copying of evidence and sending it to the US was also unlawful.

Dotcom and the three others were arrested, and Dotcom was kept in custody for a month before being granted bail.

New Zealand courts have progressively eased restrictions on him, allowing him back into his mansion, giving him access to hundreds of thousands of US dollars for living and legal expenses and removing some travel and meeting restrictions.

Dotcom told a local paper that US authorities already know they cannot win the case against him, but his legal bills are mounting up into “millions of dollars,” which he cannot pay because of a freeze on much of his fortune and assets.

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