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Prosecutors refuse to release Megaupload data

Crown claims that cloning seized hard drives would cost $200,000

Following Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom's successful defence against the latest US attempt to deny him bail on Tuesday before an extradition hearing in August, the focus of the case is likely to move to seized assets and data.

At Auckland High Court on Tuesday Judge Tim Brewer said the approximate value of assets belonging to Dotcom that had been seized to date amounted to US$17.8 million and funds held in the name of various 'mega conspiracy' companies totalled US$6.8 million. These figures did not include assets seized in New Zealand which amounted to approximately $20 million. [These figures have been updated since this article was first posted this morning].

Prosecutors had submitted that there was a wide discrepancy between these figures and Dotcom's income, which was estimated at approximately US$54 million to US$68 million in the years 2007-2010 alone. However Judge Brewer said that the money contained in six bank accounts restrained in Hong Kong since Dotcom's arrest was not significant and that only one of these accounts, with the Grand Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong, was in Dotcom's name and this contained a negative balance.

It is understood Dotcom's lawyers are preparing a court action to recover all the assets seized in New Zealand, based on the process and timing of the seizures.

Justice Brewer said that there had been "difficulty between the parties" over the release of data that was stored on computers seized during the January raids.

While Dotcom's lawyer Paul Davison QC had argued that the data contained on the seized computers was essential to the defence, Brewer said Crown prosecutor Anne Toohey had told him that the cost of cloning the hard drives would be around $200,000, and that no agreement had been reached at this point.

Meanwhile, in an interview with TV3's John Campbell which was aired on Wednesday (read the full transcript here) Dotcom re-affirmed that he had no intention of leaving New Zealand and that he would fight the US charges.

Campbell asked him: "Is there a helicopter waiting over the hill either literally or metaphorically to come and whisk you off somewhere where you can't be extradited from?"

Dotcom replied: "You know you gotta think about this for a minute, OK? Why would I leave after everything has been frozen, everything has been taken from me. The company that was worth probably a billion dollars plus has been given a death sentence without trial, you know, what point is there for me to run away? The only thing, and the only thing that makes sense and is logical here is to fight this and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to fight this all the way and I promise you, and everybody who's watching this right now, I'm going to win because I'm no criminal and I've done nothing illegal."


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