Kim Dotcom finally faces extradition hearing

The United States wants internet figure Dotcom back to face copyright violation, racketeering and money laundering charges.

It's been three-and-a-half tumultuous years since New Zealand Police raided Kim Dotcom's mansion in Coatesville, Auckland.

Kim Dotcom

Accused by the FBI of copyright violation, racketeering and money laundering, Dotcom fought a ferocious legal and extralegal campaign to avoid extradition to the United States.

Along the way, he embarrassed the Police, New Zealand spy agency the GCSB, the Prime Minister, disastrously entered the political fray via the Internet Party, released an album of music and appeared in TV ads.

Today, in an Auckland court, he finally faces the hearing he tried so hard to avoid.

It's hard to gauge the strength of the case against him, but the foundation charge -- copyright violation -- is not a criminal offence in New Zealand. He cannot be extradited for that. It is the other two charges built, or piled, on top that have to be sustained.

If lawyers for Dotcom and co-accused Fin Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk can show there is no prima facie copyright infringement case, it is likely the more serious charges will fail too.

The accused operated the defunct Megaupload file sharing service, but say they did not assist or encourage its use to share copyrighted works and took action against such infringers.

Last week, copyright expert, Harvard professor and newly-minted US presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig filed an affidavit in support of the accused with the North Shore District Court, in Auckland.

Lessig argued they had not not committed an extraditable offence. The case presented a false impression of criminality and the actions described in it were not prohibited by criminal statutes of the United States, he said.

"There is no showing of specific criminal 'willful' infringements committed by specific individual users," Lessig said of the conspiracy charges. "There is an even more serious lack of evidence of communications between respondents and such alleged users needed to prove an agreement that is subject to laws of conspiracy."

The hearing is expected to take four weeks.