Megaupload's Kim Dotcom gets back some of his seized property, and receives right to see evidence against him

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order

Kim Dotcom on TwitterThe warrants that police used to raid the home of Kim Dotcom in a SWAT-style raid were too broad, a New Zealand judge ruled on Friday.

The High Court judge, Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann, wrote in her decision that the search and arrest warrants were written in such a way that police felt authorised to seize and take away "a wide category of items" without first figuring out whether the stuff was actually relevant to the charges against Dotcom.

She wrote:

"They continue to assert that they are so authorised. This has given rise to a miscarriage of justice."

Thus, Dotcom has won back the right to see all the evidence against him before - rather than after - his possible extradition to the US to answer charges of racketeering, money laundering, online piracy and copyright infringement.

If you're a bit lost in this ongoing saga, Paul Ducklin detailed where we were a few months ago.

Dotcom's extradition hearing, rescheduled twice, is now set for August.

The January 2012 raid of his New Zealand mansion was an over-the-top affair that included at least one helicopter, dogs, and heavily armed officers who apprehended Dotcom in his unlocked safe room.

(Check out this 3NEWS report on the raid [YouTube video], in which the newscaster notes that the raid was "slightly American," Glocks and semi-automatics and all. Not surprising, given that the Federal Bureau of Investigations [FBI] was behind it and that FBI agents were present at the raid.)

Besides computers and hard drives, police seized 18 luxury vehicles, including a 1959 pink Cadillac, giant-screen TVs and works of art.

Map of New Zealand. Image courtesy of ShutterstockIn her Friday decision, Justice Winkelmann ruled that Dotcom be given clones of any seized items that contain only relevant material, prior to clones being provided to the US.

She also ruled that seized items that contain irrelevant data be returned. "Mixed content devices" - e.g., those containing both relevant and irrelevant data - should also be returned to Dotcom, she said, although police can retain clones.

Justice Winkelmann said that the removal of cloned data from New Zealand to the US was illegal. She ordered police to ask US authorities to destroy any materials that aren't relevant to Dotcom's alleged crimes.

New Zealand police are going to have to foot the bill for the review of what's relevant and what's not, while none of the seized items now in New Zealand will be allowed to leave the country.

Not to condone copyright infringement, by any means, but I must say that I like how the New Zealand court is handling this case.

I think the accused should have every right to examine the evidence police have against them, so as to mount a well-grounded defense.

Otherwise, you've got lopsided justice, which is no justice.

Besides, for the love of all things irrelevant, what does a pink Cadillac have to do with copyright infringement?

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18 Responses to Megaupload's Kim Dotcom gets back some of his seized property, and receives right to see evidence against him

  1. Guest · 473 days ago

    Maybe he had wi-fi in his pink Cadillac? Have to agree with the judge. But I do not condone Dotcom's illegal activities.

    • shf · 473 days ago

      It's yet to be determined if what he has done is illegal outside of the US and its totally unrealistic patent and copyright laws.

    • Eddddddd · 473 days ago

      There were no illegal activities, that's the point here

  2. xiduwy · 473 days ago

    Maybe the pink cadilac was bought using the cash he obtained from the copyright infringement? :/

    • MikeZ · 473 days ago

      That's a little like putting the cart before the horse isn't it? You have to first prove he obtained cash illegally? Even then isn't that a civil matter between the copyright holder and Dotcom?

  3. Machin Shin · 473 days ago

    "Besides, for the love of all things irrelevant, what does a pink Cadillac have to do with copyright infringement? "

    I think they took that just because it should be a crime to paint a car pink.

    • JRD · 473 days ago

      Elvis Presley begs to differ (or he would if he were still alive).

      Also, this is great news. I can't believe a country actually takes the rights of the accused seriously and doesn't just put them in solitary confinement and torture them until trial.

      • Paul Ducklin · 473 days ago

        Did you mean to say "if"? Or did you mean "since"?

    • Lisa Vaas · 472 days ago

      Hey! You're talking to somebody whose favorite color is pink! Sheesh... what a maligned color...

  4. Well, the pink Cadillac, could have initially been covered with decryption keys for various data, Dotcom thinks to himself "hmm IF the cops fish me for anything, they'll surely see these decryption keys and ask questions! I know I'LL GET IT PAINTED PINK! that way they'll be no suspicion!"

  5. Joe Sanders · 473 days ago

    I'm not sure which country's laws apply here, but in the US, any cash and anything suspected of being purchased with illegal profits (usually drugs cases) can be confiscated.

    • Blue · 473 days ago

      In New Zealand only New Zealand's laws apply, and most countries do not have abusive seizure laws --- i.e. ones that are applied before the person has been found guilty of any crime.

    • Karmamechanic · 473 days ago

      which leaves you with nothing, zero, nada... money/assets to defend yourself. what happened to innocent until proven guilty? how can you possibly prove your own case when everything you might have to defend yourself has been seized and shut to all eyes except to those accusing you... in real life this seems more like assumed guilty by their actions, forfeiture was engineered to cripple you of any chance of actual remedy for the wrong doings that these assaults inflict on individuals.
      I applaud NZ in allowing him to inspect what was taken but you can be sure it will be heavily censored, black out where it really counts, they have their ways.
      Without all his cashola, me thinks he is sincerely up the creek so to speak.
      I, of course do not condone anything illegal Mr. Big is suspected of carrying.

  6. Guest 2 · 473 days ago

    He probably torrented the 59' Caddy.

  7. Jesse · 473 days ago

    "Pink Cadillac" is a song recorded by Bruce Springsteen in 1984. Possession of the car is a clear violation of Mr. Springs teens intellectual property rights.

  8. herzco · 473 days ago

    This guy is so guilty. Yes, he should be able to mount a defense, but he is going to use his overpriced lawyers - paid for by the profits that musical artists SHOULD have had - to get off.

  9. guest · 473 days ago

    You wouldn't download a car !

  10. Copyrights are dying. They need to think of something else. In the future, it will be easier and easier to get things for free. Say I eat at Mcdonalds, I get x amount of coins to spend on multimedia in partnership with entertainment companies. That way its free to access but people still get paid. Or other alternatives.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.