Judge questions future of Megaupload trial

Kim Dotcom, founder of file-sharing website Megaupload, who was arrested earlier this year in New Zealand at the request of U.S. prosecutors on charges of racketeering and copyright infringement, may never face trial and walk free.

Dotcom, who was arrested with six other Megaupload employees, has been awaiting extradition to the United States since his arrest in January. But a judge in the U.S. District Court in Virginia, April 20 upon learning Dotcom had not been served with an arrest warrant, raised questions about the proceeding going forward.

A report in "The New Zealand Herald" quoted Judge Liam O'Grady as telling prosecutors, "I frankly don't know that we are ever going to have a trial in this matter."

According to media reports, Dotcom's lawyer, Ira Rothken, has speculated that authorities are unable to serve Megaupload in a criminal case because it is outside the jurisdiction of the United States. With questions about whether the case will ever move forward, the judge said the Megaupload case is "kind of hanging out there."

The U.S. Department of Justice, however, argues that Dotcom holds a majority stake in the cyber locker, which opens him up to prosecution, the reports said.

The case against Dotcom has been brought as a criminal matter rather than a civil suit because U.S. authorities had to find a way to bring charges against the company's founder that exposed him to the potential of five years in prison, a New Zealand threshold for granting extradition. Copyright infringement carries a maximum sentence of four years, while a guilty verdict on a racketeering change meets the five-year requirement, the reports said.

A report in TorrentFreak quotes Dotcom as saying, U.S. authorities have "destroyed 220 jobs." Dotcom also accused the authorities of stacking the legal deck against him. "We're refused access to the evidence that clears us, we are refused funds to pay out lawyers, we are refused to pick the lawyers we want to represent us and have any chance for a fair trial," the report quotes him as saying.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.