Megaupload's Kim Dotcom Makes Bail
They say he's not a flight risk.
Megaupload founder (and current public enemy number one for the world's copyright holders) Kim Dotcom has been released on bail in New Zealand after spending a month behind bars. The conditions of his bail have not been made public, though it is confirmed that as the government of New Zealand has seized his assets, he is not considered a flight risk. In a statement issued shortly after his release, a chastened-sounding Dotcom said "I am relieved to go home to see my family, my three little kids and my pregnant wife. And I hope you understand that that is all I want to say right now."
Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz in 1974, was arrested along with three of his employees on January 20th, the same day Megaupload was shut down by U.S. authorities. They are facing five individual conspiracy charges, nine counts of money laundering, and copyright infringement charges. This means that even if they are not successfully prosecuted for violating copyright, they'll still be viewed as an organized crime outfit. Given Dotcom's massive Bond Villain estate and tendency to arrogantly taunt his accusers, perhaps it makes aesthetic sense. Still, the RICO charges appear to have a weaker foundation, mainly being centered around the suggestion that Megaupload dishonestly described its operations and derived the majority of its income from illegal file shares.
American authorities have until March 2 to file extradition paperwork to bring Dotcom to the US to stand trial. For reasons that are unclear, this paperwork has not yet been submitted. Information being scant, it would be irresponsible to speculate that the arrests served to justify taking Megaupload down rather than the reverse, though the fact that these arrests occurred the same day SOPA and PIPA were shelved is an interesting coincidence. Should the U.S. fail to file for extradition, Dotcom will face charges in New Zealand courts. For now, he has returned to the 4.3 million dollar home he was permitted to keep when his other assets were frozen. Presumably, he won't be allowed to sell it.