New Zealand High Court Justice Helen Winkelmann today rejected a U.S. request to review a district court judge’s order to turn over evidence relating to Dotcom’s indictment, including all records obtained in connection with covert operations undertaken by agents involved in the investigation.
“The NZ High Court ruling in @KimDotcom case citing Bill of Rights protects Kim’s rights and the rights of all New Zealand residents,” Ira Rothken, a lawyer for Dotcom, wrote on Twitter following the ruling.
The amount of documentation ordered to be turned over to Dotcom was unprecedented in the country or anywhere else for extradition cases, the U.S. had said.
“Disclosure in relation to extradition cases is extremely limited,” prosecutors had said, according to a summary of the arguments written by Winkelmann.
Extradition hearings are “essentially criminal in character” and the accused must be assured a fair hearing, according to New Zealand’s Bill of Rights, Winkelmann wrote.
“The more significant the rights affected, the more stringent the procedural rules designed to maintain the fairness of the process are likely to be,” the judge wrote.
The case is between United States of America and Kim Dotcom. Civ 2012-404-3026. High Court of New Zealand (Auckland).
The documents to be disclosed are significant in their scope, encompassing all elements of the case from the allegations of infringement, through to information being held on the nature of the Megaupload rewards program. Interestingly, as part of a section marked Criminal Breach of Copyright, the ruling says that US authorities must disclose:
– All records obtained or created in connection with the covert operations undertaken by agents involved in the investigations related to these proceedings in transacting and uploading/downloading data and files on the Megaupload site.
– All records or information and/or material provided to or obtained by the investigation and/or prosecuting agencies by the investigating and/or prosecuting agencies in this case from holders and/or owners of copyright interests evidencing alleged infringement of their copyright and/or complaining of such infringement.
- All records and materials related to communications between relevant copyright holders and Megaupload and/or its employees regarding their copyright interest, the direct delete access provided by Megaupload to any such copyright holders, and any communications between the copyright holders and Megaupload and/or its staff regarding take-down notices.
Today’s ruling marks a significant victory for Kim Dotcom, his associates, and their legal team. Access to the evidence against them has been ruled crucial to the defendants being able to mount a proper defense, something that the US authorities have tried to deny. Last week Dotcom promised more revelations – they are now almost certainly on their way.
The extradition hearing is currently expected sometime early 2013.