3 Feb 2012

Bail refused for Kim Dotcom

10:11 pm on 3 February 2012

The founder of the file-sharing website MegaUpload, Kim Dotcom, is to remain behind bars after losing an appeal against a court order keeping him in custody.

Justice Asher denied him bail at the High Court in Auckland on Friday evening, agreeing with a North Shore District Court judge who ruled that Mr Dotcom posed a flight risk.

Mr Dotcom, 38, a German national who also has New Zealand residency, was arrested in connection with a major internet piracy prosecution on 20 January this year.

The United States of America wants Mr Dotcom extradited from New Zealand.

Justice Asher said Mr Dotcom's home country of Germany does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

He said if Mr Dotcom, who was denied bail last week after Judge David McNaughton decided he posed a flight risk, was to return to Germany, he would avoid court and the risk of imprisonment.

Earlier, Mr Dotcom's lawyer Paul Davison QC told the court it was inconceivable that his client, who was a large man, could sneak out of the country undetected.

The court had heard several reasons as to why Mr Dotcom might be at risk of flight, including the availability of a helicopter at his home, his several identities and his possession of multiple credit cards and travel documents.

Crown prosecutor Anne Toohey, acting for the US authorities, told the court a man with a history of producing fraudulent documents had sought visitor rights at the Auckland Central Remand Prison, where Mr Dotcom is in custody. Ms Toohey said the man was denied visiting rights.

Mr Dotcom, giving evidence on Friday for the first time since his arrest, said this unwanted attention had been brought about by the media, saying he had never heard of the man.

He said if anyone were to offer him fraudulent identification documents, he would tell them to "go to hell".

Mr Davison said given the distinctive appearance of his client, the idea that he could pass through Customs undetected using false documentation was inconceivable.

Outside the court, Mr Davison refuted the claim that his client was a flight risk.

He says his client is very disappointed with the outcome of the appeal and believes he has done nothing wrong.

Security chief questioned

Earlier, Mr Dotcom's head of security, Wayne Tempero, was questioned about an illegal firearm found at his employer's home the day he was arrested.

The court was told that police found an illegal, loaded weapon in an open gun safe at the mansion Mr Dotcom leases at Coatesville near Auckland.

Mr Tempero, who is currently before the North Shore District Court charged with unlawful possession of a semi-automatic shotgun, said the weapon he had modified was for skeet shooting.

He admitted the gun fitted the legal definition of a pistol that neither he nor Mr Dotcom were licensed to own or operate.

Mr Dotcom and three other Megaupload employees are accused of money laundering, racketeering and copyright piracy by United States agencies, which have shut down Megaupload.

The FBI has been investigating Megaupload, which the US accuses of pirating films and other content, costing copyright holders more than $US500 million in lost revenue.

Two of the other accused, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato, were granted bail last week but have yet to be released, as police have yet to assess the place where they will be bailed to.

Mathias Ortmann, a co-founder of Megaupload, was also seeking bail in the Manukau District Court on Friday.