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Megaupload tycoon offers to go to U.S. to answer piracy charges
July 11, 2012 / 3:11 AM / 5 years ago

Megaupload tycoon offers to go to U.S. to answer piracy charges

WELLINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) - Kim Dotcom, the Internet
tycoon at the centre of a U.S. investigation into online piracy
and fraud, said on Wednesday he was willing to go to the United
States to clear his name, offering to forego a pending
extradition hearing in New Zealand.
    Dotcom, the founder of the Megaupload file-sharing site,
challenged the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to a fair
trial, and said he was willing to face them in court in the
United States if they agreed to certain conditions.
    "Hey DOJ (Department of Justice), we will go to the US. No
need for extradition," Dotcom, the 38-year-old German national,
who also goes by Kim Schmitz, posted on Twitter.
    "We want bail, funds unfrozen for lawyers & living
expenses," he added, referring to himself and three others
facing the U.S. charges.
    In its highest-profile investigation into online piracy, the
FBI alleges that Dotcom led a group that has netted $175 million
since 2005 by copying and distributing music, movies and other
copyrighted content without authorisation.
    His lawyers say the company simply offered online storage.
    Dotcom's offer comes a day after a New Zealand court delayed
a hearing into the U.S. extradition request until March next
year because of ongoing legal hearings related to the search and
seizure of evidence by the United States.
    The New Zealand High Court in June ruled that search
warrants used by police to search the flamboyant Dotcom's
mansion to collect the evidence were illegal. The court also
ruled that the FBI's copying of evidence and sending it to the
United States was also unlawful.
    Acting on a request from the FBI, New Zealand armed police, 
backed by helicopters, swept into Dotcom's rented estate outside
Auckland in January, confiscating computers and hard drives.
    Dotcom and the three others were arrested, and Dotcom was
kept in custody for a month before being granted bail.
    New Zealand courts have progressively eased restrictions on
him, allowing him back into his mansion, giving him access to
hundreds of thousands of dollars for living and legal expenses,
and removing some travel and meeting restrictions.
    Dotcom told a local paper that U.S. authorities already know
they cannot win the case against him, but his legal bills are
mounting up into "millions of dollars", which he cannot pay
because of a freeze on much of his fortune and assets.
    "I have accumulated millions of dollars in legal bills and I
haven't been able to pay a single cent," he told the New Zealand
Herald on Wednesday.
    "They just want to hang me out to dry and wait until there
is no support left."
    He is increasingly using Twitter to keep his followers
abreast of every twist and turn in his complicated case, while
also posting photos of family birthdays and praising his legal
team.

 (Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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