US Moves to Put Megaupload's Founder Back in Jail

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Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is due to appear in Auckland High Court on Tuesday morning as representatives of the U.S. government appeal a ruling that set him free on bail last week.

Dotcom was granted bail on the conditions that he wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, stay at his rented mansion outside of Auckland and not access the internet.

Megaupload, a now-shuttered file-sharing website, was targeted by the entertainment industry and law enforcement for its alleged trade in content without permission of copyright owners as well as allegedly reproducing material from websites such as YouTube.

Dotcom was initially denied bail on Jan. 25 after being deemed a flight risk due to his wealth and also because he holds German and Finnish passports. The ruling was upheld on Feb. 3 after Dotcom appealed.

Dotcom filed a new application for bail in a District Court, arguing last week that all of his bank accounts had been frozen by law enforcement and he had little incentive to flee given that his three kids and wife, who is pregnant with twins, are still in New Zealand.

Representatives of the U.S. government fought the new application, implying that Dotcom might have access to secret funds. Dotcom has prior convictions, was found with an illegal firearm when he was arrested and has bank cards in several different names, they argued.

But the judge disagreed, writing in a ruling that Dotcom would face losing all of his considerable assets if he decided to become a fugitive.

The U.S. plans to seek to extradite Dotcom, who was indicted along with six other people and two companies by a U.S. grand jury in January on charges of copyright infringement, racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud. The extradition proceedings aren't expected to begin before July.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges Megaupload collected US$175 million in criminal proceeds and caused more than $500 billion in damages to copyright holders. Also charged in the case are Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Sven Echternach, Mathias Ortmann, Andrus Nomm and Bram Van Der Kolk.

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