Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom along with his three co-accused -- Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batatohas -- have lost their case against extradition to the US in Auckland's North Shore District Courthttp://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/292865/kim-dotcom-loses-fight-to-stay-in-nz.
Delivering his verdict on Wednesday, presiding Judge Nevin Dawson said all four men needed to be sent to the US to stand trial.
During a 10-week hearing on charges of copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and wire fraud that finished in November, lawyers for the US argued the men had earned $US175 million by running a website funded largely by revenue from publishing copyright-infringing files.
They said the website had paid money for people to illegally upload copyright-infringing files and then charged others to watch them.
The parties have 15 days to appeal, an avenue that lawyer for Kim Dotcom Ira Rothken tweeted the legal team would pursue.
"The @KimDotcom team looks forward to having the US request for extradition reviewed in the High Court," Rothken said. "We have no other comments at this time."
If eventually extradited and found guilty in the US, they could face decades in jail.
During the trial, crown lawyer Christine Gordon said a series of messages between the men showed they knew authorities would eventually come for them. In reply, Dotcom accused US authorities of deliberately mistranslating statements he made in German in order to create a case against him.
His legal team also argued that Dotcom could not be extradited to the United States on copyright infringement charges, because the treaty between the US and New Zealand was not intended for this purpose, and both the US Supreme Court and NZ legislation state that copyright infringement does not constitute wire fraud.
Dotcom has been enmeshed in a legal and political saga since he was arrested and his Auckland home was raided in early 2012 as a result of his activities and involvement with founding website Megaupload, which facilitated the infringement of copyright material online and allegedly earned him around $175 million.
The New Zealand government apologised to Dotcom in 2012 for illegally spying on him.
A year later, Dotcom launched Mega, an encrypted cloud storage service that attempted to position itself a privacy-orientated product.
In July this year, Dotcom claimed that Mega was in the hands of a Chinese investor who is wanted for fraud in China, and has consequently had his shares seized by the New Zealand government, putting the state in effective control of the company.
"As a result of this and a number of other confidential issues, I don't trust Mega anymore," Dotcom said. "I don't think your data is safe on Mega anymore."
In response, Mega said the comments were defamatory, and Dotcom has not been a director at Mega since October 2013.
At the time, Mega said it had 13 percent of its shareholdings subject to two freezing orders. A 6 percent holding controlled by Dotcom's estranged wife was frozen in November 2014 by the New Zealand High Court on application by five Hollywood film studios, and, in a separate matter, a 7 percent shareholding was frozen by the High Court in August 2014.
Mega is not a party to either of the above court proceedings," it said.
"More than 75 percent of shareholders have supported recent equity issues, so there has not been any 'hostile takeover', contrary to Mr Dotcom's assertion. Those shareholders who have decided not to subscribe to recent issues have been diluted accordingly. That has been their choice."