Megaupload founder can stay out on bail, judge rules
Feb 29, 2012, 5:13 GMT
Wellington - Kim Dotcom, the millionaire German founder of the file-sharing Megaupload website, can stay in his rented mansion until the hearing of a US request to extradite him, a New Zealand judge ruled Wednesday, news reports said.
Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, is wanted in the United States for online copyright piracy. The hearing on his extradition was expected in August.
Auckland High Court Judge Tim Brewer rejected a US appeal against Dotcom's bail, granted six days ago, saying his electronic ankle bracelet was enough to prevent him fleeing justice.
Dotcom, 38, was freed to stay with his pregnant wife and three young children in the mansion they rent north of Auckland until the extradition hearing.
He was arrested by New Zealand police on January 20 on behalf of the FBI, which accuses him of internet piracy, racketeering and money-laundering.
He has New Zealand residency, strongly denies any wrongdoing and has consistently said he would not try to leave the country.
In addition to electronic monitoring by authorities he is barred from accessing the internet. US officials allege the Megaupload web-sharing company he founded has deprived copyright holders of movies and music of at least 500 million US dollars.
Dotcom has had millions of dollars' worth of personal assets seized by authorities worldwide.
Earlier in court, prosecutor Anne Toohey said Dotcom and his wife had asked for 220,000 New Zealand dollars (185,000 US dollars) a month to be released to cover their living costs, including security guards, nannies and a butler.
Dotcom lawyers disputed that, saying the family needed 28,000 New Zealand dollars monthly for living costs and the bulk of the rest of that sum was a one-off cost of rent for the mansion.
Three co-accused, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato were also on bail pending the extradition hearing.
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