Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has been denied bail following an appeal in the Auckland High Court today.
The decision was announced by Justice Raynor Asher at around 7.15pm. It follows a day-long hearing in which Dotcom took the stand and told the court he has no desire to flee New Zealand and wants to fight the charges against him "on a level playing field".
“I want to stay here, prove my innocence and get my money back,” he said during cross examination.
Dotcom was in court to appeal an earlier decision by North Shore District Court not to grant him bail pending an extradition hearing that is scheduled to take place on February 22. On the court list the case appeared as "Kim Dotcom v The United States of America.
Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison QC said the appeal challenged the district court judge’s decision to deny Dotcom bail based on his flight risk, noting that the judge in that hearing had not accepted there was a risk of re-offending while on bail.
Anne Toohey, a New Zealand Crown lawyer who was appearing on behalf of the United States, confirmed that she would not be cross-appealing on the latter issue.
“The United States of America is seeking to uphold the decision of the lower court, not challenge the basis of the decision,” Toohey said.
Dotcom was cross examined on the question of his alleged flight to Thailand in 2002 and his alleged deportation from that country to Germany, where he later faced insider trading charges.
Dotcom said he had travelled to Thailand for a holiday and at that time was unaware of any charges against him. When he heard about these allegations he immediately contacted Germany’s largest television station who subsequently interviewed him at his hotel in Thailand.
Soon afterward, Dotcom said two German embassy staff visited him and demanded that he hand over his passport. “Moments” after the embassy officials left, Dotcom said Thai police arrived and arrested him for not having legal travel documents.
After five days in a Thai immigration prison, Dotcom said German authorities offered him a one day travel document if he returned with them to Germany, to which he agreed.
However Toohey said that while earlier enquiries by New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office had not found any record of deportation in Thailand, more recent enquiries had received an official confirmation that Dotcom had been deported from Thailand.
The court also heard more details about the police raid on the Dotcom mansion on January 20.
Dotcom said the first he heard was a loud banging on his bedroom door and so, following the security protocol he had previously arranged with his bodyguard, he pushed a panic button and then fled via a secret door to a panic room, known in the household as the Red Room.
In what appears to be a direct contradiction to police evidence, Dotcom says the door to his bedroom (where a secret doorway led to the Red Room) had automatically locked when he entered it the previous night, and he had not shut it when police arrived.
Dotcom said he waited there until police found him sitting on the floor behind a pillar. He said his hands were outstretched, which again appears to be contrary to police evidence. Dotcom said police were “quite aggressive,” and he alleged that he had been hit in the face and that an officer had stood on his hand, causing it to bleed.
During the proceedings Dotcom said that Megaupload had hosted 12 billion unique files. He argued that even if there were 10 copies on its servers of every movie ever made this would not account for even 12 million of the files hosted, which showed that the vast majority of Megaupload files were legitimate.
He also said that as a result of the action by the US government, 100 million Megaupload users no longer had access to their files.
“It’s the biggest disregard of basic rights in internet history,” Dotcom said.
But prosecutor Toohey said documents had been filed which supported the US claim that Megaupload had caused US$500 million of harm to copyright holders. She said the estimate had been arrived at by the number of music singles downloaded, valued at US 99 cents each, that were downloaded by Megaupload users over a period of two weeks.
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