Megaupload case stalls as evidence seize & share judged illegal

The massive US copyright infringement case against Megaupload founder Kim DotCom has found itself in choppy waters, after courts found search warrants used to seize data were invalid. In addition to New Zealand police acting without due process in their evidence collection, the New Zealand Herald reports, Justice Helen Winkelmann also decided that the FBI’s cloning of the confiscated hard-drives was invalid, as DotCom had not given his own consent to the process.

According to Winkelmann, the initial raid on DotCom’s property – which saw not only multiple computers and external drives grabbed, but a cavalcade of luxury cars and motorcycles — was far too broad in the net it cast. The warrants the police used “fell well short” of describing the offenses DotCom was to be charged with; “they were general warrants” Winkelmann said, “and as such, are invalid.”

An independent lawyer will now be appointed, to comb through everything that was seized and figure out what evidence is relevant to the investigation. The US authorities will have access to that information, but must return all other data copied from the New Zealand police.

“These categories of items were defined in such a way that they would inevitably capture within them both relevant and irrelevant material. The police acted on this authorisation. The warrants could not authorise seizure of irrelevant material, and are therefore invalid” Justice Helen Winkelmann

Exactly what happened in that data exchange process will also be investigated. According to DotCom’s lawyer, Paul Davison QC, the Crown legal team assured him back in February that “the evidence is required in its original form to be sent to the US. That has not happened and will not happen without prior warning” when he wrote to them insisting that no evidence leave the country. However, he was subsequently informed that the FBI had visited New Zealand and cloned drives, returning with the data to the US.

The Crown legal team argues that the original warrants made it clear that evidence would be shared with US authorities, and have said they are in discussions about the implications of the warrant decision on the ongoing case.

[ Source: 9HardWare ]
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Comments (6)
  • 0
    muhadiv 28 Jun 2012 #

    Ho, Ho... Nice

  • 0
    geodat 30 Jun 2012 #

    it shows how stupid some people are..

  • 0
    kisampah 30 Jun 2012 #

    he was a New Zealand or U.S.?
    why grabbed a cavalcade of luxury cars and motorcycles?
    ??for what?

    packmaster 30 Jun 2012 #

    He has German and Finnish passports but lives in NZ.
    The US Department of Justice requested that NZ police arrest him which under reciprocal treaty's they had to do.
    But they (NZ police) were so exited to be working with the FBI they messed up.
    He is sill in NZ but the US want to extradite him.

    kisampah 2 Jul 2012 #

    This case should be considered - how they become authoritarian
    as we all know..
    Every citizen is protected by the laws of their country
    but.."They" try to extend their laws.
    I hope the end result would be invalid as this news.

  • 0
    scottwww 4 Jul 2012 #

    Megaupoad millionaire Kim Dotcom claims the US Government and the Crown are deliberately delaying disclosing the evidence in their copyright case against him.

    Dotcom appeared in the High Court at Auckland today, where lawyers are again arguing over whether he has the right to view the files held on him by the FBI in relation to his extradition.

    The copyright-accused previously won the rights to view the documents following a case in the district court heard by judge David Harvey.

    This was then delayed after an application for judicial review was lodged by the Crown.

    Speaking outside court today, Dotcom said it was a priority for him to have access to the information so he could fight his extradition.

    "We need access to the information so we can defend ourselves properly," he said.

    With the hearing looming, Dotcom said they were running out of time.

    "Everyone can see there is a strategy of delay on the part of the US Government and the Crown."

    The authorities had already had six months to prepare the case, he said.

    During this morning's hearing, Crown lawyer John Pike argued there was no need for Dotcom to have access to the files because he was not being tried in New Zealand. The judge in the extradition case needed only to decide if there is a case for him to answer in the United States, Pike said.

    "His job is to determine whether the record of case is reliable and can support convictions," he said.

    Pike said that to be eligible for disclosure, there was a threshold that had to be reached, and Dotcom's case did not meet that threshold.

    "In making that determination the judge erred both in law and in principle," he said.

    Dotcom's defence lawyers are arguing their case this afternoon.


    Earlier today the court heard that the officers who raided Dotcom's Coatesville mansion in January may have to take the stand and give evidence as part of the judicial review process.

    The warrants that authorised the searches, carried out by New Zealand police on behalf of the FBI, were deemed illegal in a judgement delivered last week by High Court judge Helen Winkelmann.

    She also ruled it was unlawful for copies of Dotcom's computer data to be taken offshore.

    Lawyers for Dotcom and the Crown must now decide how to resolve the dispute, with Dotcom seeking an independent lawyer to go through the seized evidence and return all irrelevant material to him.

    US authorities claim Dotcom and his three co-accused - Mathias Ortmann, Fin Batato and Bram van der Kolk - used the Megaupload website and its affiliated sites to knowingly make money from pirated movies and games.

    Dotcom's lawyer Paul Davison, QC, said there were "a number" of items seized he believed were irrelevant to the extradition case, but how to determine that was somewhat problematic.

    Pike agreed the remedies phase "was not simple".

    He said the difficulty was that the Crown was working for a foreign government, and while Dotcom's team believed the separation should be done by an independent barrister, he feared that would give that person "disproportionate authority".

    Effectively, Pike said, that process would put the information beyond the control of the arresting authority, the FBI.

    The case was "breaking new ground" in extradition law in New Zealand - in relation to both the judicial review of the search warrants' legality and another decision by a district court judge to award disclosure to Dotcom.

    Both lawyers sought leave to file affidavits in relation to the case and will do so by Monday.

    Pike said police would be required to submit information detailing the raid. The two officers in charge of the searches would both swear affidavits.

    Dotcom may also file an affidavit about what happened at his home on the day of the raids. Davison said his client had strong views on the actions of police.

    Davison said it was likely that what police said would be controversial, and therefore, it was possible they would be cross examined as part of the review.

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