POLITICS

Procedural error may block Megaupload trial

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom may never face trial or extradition to the United States because the company has never been served with U.S. "criminal papers," due to a jurisdictional dispute.

"I frankly don't know that we are ever going to have a trial in this matter," United States District Judge Liam O'Grady told the FBI during a hearing on whether federal officials have the authority to erase the databases of the file-sharing website, per the New Zealand Herald.

Megaupload is a file-sharing website accused of facilitating internet piracy. When the Department of Justice (DOJ) shut down the website in January, hackers retaliated by crashing the DOJ website.

The failure to serve the company with US documents results from a jurisdictional dispute. Dotcom's attorney, Ira Rothken, says it is not legal for the FBI to serve the company with the necessary paperwork because it is based in a foreign country.

"My understanding as to why they haven't done that is because they can't," Rothken said. "We don't believe Megaupload can be served in a criminal matter because it is not located within the jurisdiction of the United States."

DOJ claimed authority to shut down the site because the company stored some of its databases on "leased servers in Virginia."

The issue could sink the case against Megaupload. "Should the case collapse in America, the only remaining recourse would be to try and secure criminal copyright-breach charges in New Zealand," The Register (UK) explains. "Without charges in America, however, it’s an open question as to whether evidence supplied by the FBI would be admissible."

Dotcom, in responding to O'Grady's comments, indicated he believes President Obama targeted his company in order to curry favor with the entertainment industry during an election year.

"This Mega takedown was possible because of corruption on the highest political level, serving the interests of the copyright extremists in Hollywood," he told Torrentfreak, a website dedicated to file-sharing issues. "Mega has become a re-election pawn."

 

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