The extraordinary soap opera of Kim Dotcom’s dealings with the law continued in New Zealand on Monday as his appeal against extradition began in the Auckland High Court with a bid to live stream proceedings on YouTube.
The internet entrepreneur and his former colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato were ruled eligible for extradition to the US in December, but are appealing the decision.
The four were arrested in New Zealand in 2012 and charged with copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering in relation to the operations of Dotcom’s former file sharing website Megaupload.
US authorities allege the site was being used to breach copyright because its users were encouraged to upload copyrighted material, including movies.
Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield argued on Monday that strong public interest in the case justified screening the proceedings on YouTube, according to Radio New Zealand.
“This is a case of the internet age, and as such has attracted significant academic and media interest,” he told the court.
“The chances of such interest being satisfied by the necessarily brief footage by television or radio is negligible,” he said.
Mansfield told the court Dotcom had hired a cameraman to film the hearing, but was willing to take video footage from a television camera if necessary.
High Court Justice Murray Gilbert said he would continue hearing the application for live streaming later on Monday after media organisations had been given a chance to discuss the issue.
The unusual request kicked off the latest instalment in the ongoing soap opera which New Zealanders, willing or otherwise, have had a front row seat for since Dotcom’s arrest more than four years ago.
Whatever the judge’s ruling, it may still be years, rather than months, before the matter of Dotcom’s extradition is settled once and for all. He has made public his intention to continue appealing the matter all the way to New Zealand’s Supreme Court if necessary.
If extradited and convicted in a U.S. court, the 42-year-old faces a potential stiff prison sentence.
He told his almost half a million followers on Twitter this month, “I’ll never get extradited to the land of corrupt politicians and rigged courts. New Zealand appeal judges will apply the law.”