New Zealand court finds raid on Kim Dotcom was legal
A New Zealand appeals court ruled Wednesday that police acted legally when armed officers raided Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom's Auckland mansion as part of a US-led online piracy probe.
The decision overturned an earlier finding that the January 2012 dawn raid was unlawful because the search warrants police used were too broad to be considered reasonable.
An appeals bench of three judges found the warrants were "defective in some respects" but not enough to render them invalid.
"This really was a case of error of expression. The defects were defects in form not in substance," they said in a 44-page written judgement.
"No more items were seized than would have been without the defects in the search warrants."
Police seized more than 135 electronic items in the raid, including laptops, computers, portable hard drives, flash storage devices and servers, containing an estimated 150 terabytes of data.
New Zealand authorities carried out the operation at the request of the FBI and US Justice Department, who were conducting their largest ever copyright investigation into Dotcom's business empire.
However, the appeals court upheld an earlier ruling that the New Zealand police should not have allowed the FBI to clone much of the data and take it back to the United States to be analysed for evidence in the investigation.
The seized data relates to Dotcom's Megaupload file-sharing business, which accounted for an estimated four percent of all Internet traffic before it was shut down in the wake of the raid.
US authorities allege Megaupload and related sites netted more than $175 million and cost copyright owners more than $500 million by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content.
Dotcom denies any wrongdoing and is free on bail in New Zealand ahead of an extradition hearing scheduled in April.
If the German national and his three co-accused are sent to the United States they will face charges of racketeering, money laundering and copyright theft carrying potential jail terms of 20 years.
Dotcom has launched a new venture called Mega while on bail.
His San Francisco-based lawyer Ira Rothken said the latest judgement could be subject to further appeal.
"Our... legal team is reviewing the rulings made by the Court of Appeal and will likely seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court," he tweeted.
© 2014 AFP