Lawyers representing Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom have published a "White Paper" in which they question whether the US Department of Justice is conducting a "contract prosecution" against their client.
The 38-page document, jointly authored by Dotcom's US lawyer, Ira Rothken, and his London-based human rights lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, accuses US prosecutors of taking a "gunslinger attitude" to the rule of law. The publication of the document coincides with a visit to New Zealand by US Attorney-General Eric Holder, who is attending an annual meeting of the "Quintet of Attorneys General" of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Rothken and Amsterdam claim that Dotcom has been accused of crimes that do not exist under US law. They also allege that the take down of the Megaupload file sharing site in January last year was carried out at the behest of "special interest groups" close to the US Democratic Party.
"The United States has charged Kim Dotcom with criminal liability for the acts of his Megaupload cloud storage users, a form of secondary copyright infringement, but no criminal statute for secondary copyright infringement exists," says the White Paper.
"The vast range of abuses committed in this case raise serious questions as to whether the Department of Justice is carrying out a 'contract prosecution' against the defendants," says Amsterdam. "The US actions against Kim Dotcom set a frightening precedent for the basic rights of internet users and innovators of new technologies. Frankly, the lies that were told to friendly governments and the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom demonstrate a gunslinger attitude to rule of law."
Dotcom's lawyers claim that the US launched the action against Dotcom and Megaupload a day after the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, former Democrat Senator Chris Dodd, "openly threatened to withhold donations to Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign unless the administration took action against Hollywood's perceived copyright threats".
"The US government acted illegally when it took down one of the world's largest cloud storage services without any notice or chance for Megaupload to be heard in a court of law and by omitting exculpatory evidence [evidence which would support Dotcom's innocence] in their submissions to the court," says Rothken. "The result ignores substantial non-infringing uses of cloud storage and is both offensive to the rights of Megaupload and to the rights of millions of consumers worldwide, who stored personal data with the service,"
Rothken and Amsterdam conclude the White Paper by calling on the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Office of Professional Responsibility of the US Department of Justice to investigate the conduct of the Megaupload prosecution by the US Department of Justice. "In particular, the issue of special-interest influence over the executive branch and the failure of the Department of Justice to protect Megaupload consumer data access should be scrutinised," the White Paper says.