New Zealand judge rules Kim Dotcom eligible for extradition to U.S.

Kim Dotcom eligible for extradition to U.S.
Kim Dotcom eligible for extradition to U.S.

A judge in New Zealand has ruled that Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom can be sent back to the U.S. where he faces criminal charges.

Dotcom and three of his former business associates -- Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk -- are eligible for extradition under Wednesday's decision.

Dotcom, the millionaire founder of Megaupload -- a file-sharing site that became one of the Internet's largest bastions of pirated content -- is wanted in the U.S. for reproducing and distributing copyrighted content from movies to e-books on a massive scale.

The New Zealand decision on Wednesday moves Dotcom's long-pending case forward. For some time, it was unclear whether Dotcom's alleged crimes would make him eligible for extradition under New Zealand's treaty with the U.S. The extradition decision also faced several delays.

Megaupload was shut down in January 2012 by U.S. federal agents, after Dotcom and other former co-workers were arrested by New Zealand police acting in conjunction with U.S. authorities. The group was indicted with several crimes.

Dotcom, born 1974 as Kim Schmitz in Germany, has long said Megaupload was simply a file-sharing website, and that he shouldn't be taken to blame for what others were uploading.

He first attracted the attention of authorities in his early 20s when he was convicted of a number of offenses, including computer fraud.

Dotcom's lawyer, Ira Rothken, tweeted after the decision that the "team looks forward to having the U.S. request for extradition reviewed in the High Court. We have no other comments at this time."

Dotcom also took to Twitter after the decision to thank his supporters.

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