New Zealand court rules Kim Dotcom can be extradited

Kim Dotcom speaks while Bram van der Kolk looks on during an Intelligence and Security Committee hearing at Bowen House

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom suffered a major setback in his epic legal battle against online piracy charges Thursday when New Zealand's Court of Appeal ruled he was eligible for extradition to the United States.

If found guilty, they could face decades in prison. Dotcom has been fighting the extradition ever since the Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down his digital empire in 2012.

The court said in a statement that "The evidence relied on by the United States discloses a clear prima facie case to support the allegations that the appellants conspired to, and did, breach copyright wilfully and on a massive scale for commercial gain".

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Prosecutors allege that Megaupload, which once accounted for 4 percent of all internet traffic, generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated films, music and files.

Dotcom's lawyer Ira Rothken told Reuters via email that his client would appeal the decision in the country's highest judiciary body, the Supreme Court. If handed over to the USA, he and his three co-defendants will face charges of copyright infringement and fraud that resulted in damages to record and film studios to the tune of over $500 million.

In addition to Dotcom, who founded Megaupload and was its biggest shareholder, the U.S. is also seeking to extradite former Megaupload officers Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato.

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"Many important cases in New Zealand are not won in the Court of Appeal, or in the courts below, but are won when they reach the Supreme Court, My case will be one of those", he said.

The group can seek leave to appeal the Court of Appeal's judgment to the Supreme Court.

"We direct that the District Court should now proceed without further delay to complete its duties under section 26 of the Extradition Act in accordance with the determination", it said.

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The court's decision, by Justices Kós, French and Miller, was made after the United States relied on a range of extradition pathways.

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