Kim Dotcom extradition decision delayed over illegal search warrant issue

A New Zealand judge has postponed a decision regarding the extradition of Megaupload employees, including the site’s founder Kim Dotcom, to the US to face fraud and copyright charges.

The US in March filed a request for Dotcom and three others involved in the case to be extradited, but the process has been held up by a contention over illegal search warrants. A hearing scheduled for August has been delayed until March 2013 to allow justice officials to address legal issues concerning the search and seizure of evidence in the case.

"It was inevitable that the hearing for August was going to be vacated because we have two existing cases in the High Court," William Akel, a member of Dotcom’s legal team, told Reuters.

The FBI and the US Department of Justice allege that Dotcom and his Mega Conspiracy group have earned $175 million, and cost copyright owners more than $500 million, by intentionally pirating music, movies and other copyrighted material.

Accordingly, US officials asked New Zealand police to swarm a house rented by Dotcom outside of Auckland, where computers and hard drives were confiscated as evidence, and Dotcom and three associates were arrested.

In June, the High Court of New Zealand found that the search warrants used in that raid were unlawful. The court also ruled that the FBI and other US authorities must disclose all evidence in their possession.

Dotcom spent one month in jail after his arrest, but has since been granted bail.