Judge Nevin Dawson said that the Megaupload founder has no funds of significance that may tempt him to flee. All of his funds were seized last month, but even so, U.S. prosecutors found four bank accounts in the Philippines recently. Unfortunately, they were empty.
Despite his release, Dotcom will be watched closely by authorities, who set several conditions for his release (including no Internet access no use of his helicopter). Also, he’s not allowed to travel more than 80 kilometers from his property. He’s only allowed to live in a small house near his mansion, and he must wear an electronic tag.
Even so, Dotcom can still give orders. I gave this a little thought and realized he can do great things even while under house arrest. Assuming he still has money hidden away somwhere, he could influence people to help people get their files from the MegaUpload servers. Despite the government’s action, people have the right to get their files back, as long as they haven’t infringed any copyrights. And most Megaupload users haven’t.
Dotcom can continue to fight extradition to the U.S., where he is wanted on racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering charges. The extradition hearing is scheduled for March 2. If he wins, he’ll remain a free man in New Zealand. Dotcom does have an advantage in his battle: He’s a German citizen, and Germany forbids extradition of their own nationals.
The US has accused the MegaUpload website of infringing US copyright laws, causing more than $500 million in damages and generating $175 million “in criminal proceeds.” All six MegaUpload staff members that were previously arrested in January have now been released on bail.