After being arrested and charged with running a huge online piracy ring, larger-than-life founder of file-sharing site Megaupload Kim Dotcom said Monday in a bail hearing that he was innocent of all charges.
Dotcom (pictured) and several other Megaupload employees were named in a 72-page indictment issued Thursday by the Department of Justice. The indictment against Megaupload alleges that it is connected to a vast criminal enterprise has caused more than $500 million in harm to copyright owners. If convicted, the company and its executives could serve many years in prison and forfeit $175 million in assets, including 15 Mercedes, a Maserati, a Lamborghini and a Rolls-Royce.
Dotcom faces extradition to the U.S., but for now he is being set up for trial in a New Zealand court, as documented by Reuters. The judge on the case, David McNaughton, listened to arguments today on whether Dotcom should be allowed to post bail. Lawyer Anne Toohey argued on behalf of the United States and told the court that Dotcom was a flight risk and could re-start Megaupload if freed.
Megaupload defense lawyer Paul Davison argued that Dotcom isn’t a flight risk because the government has seized his assets and because his wife is pregnant with twins. He also said Dotcom was innocent and denied the existence of a “mega conspiracy.”
“He is not the sort of person who will pass unnoticed through our customs and immigration lines and controls,” said Davison of the 6-foot-6-inch, 285-pound Dotcom.
The judge decided the case was too complex for an immediate ruling on bail, but said he would issue a decision no later than Wednesday.
One setback from Megaupload appears to be that U.S.-based lawyer Robert Bennett, who planned to defend Megaupload, has withdrawn from the case because his law firm, Hogan Lovells, had a conflict of interest.
Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken told VentureBeat on Friday that the company would “be assembling a worldwide team of top-notch lawyers, intellectual property lawyers and tech lawyers to defend this. There’s a good chance Megaupload will prevail in this case.”
Messages left with Rothken on Monday were not immediately returned.