In New Zealand, two individuals have entered guilty pleas for their roles in running the once-famous piracy website Megaupload.
NEW ZEALAND’S WELLINGTON (AP) — Two men admitted to running the once-famous piracy website Megaupload on Wednesday in New Zealand as part of a deal they reached to avoid extradition to the United States.
Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk’s 10-year legal battle to prevent extradition to the United States on allegations that included racketeering came to an end with their pleas before the Auckland High Court.
After the two admitted guilt in New Zealand to being a part of a criminal gang and defrauding artists out of money, prosecutors from both nations agreed to drop the accusations. They are currently free on bail pending sentencing and could spend up to ten years in jail.
The founder of Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, who also resides in New Zealand and has stated he now anticipates his former coworkers to testify against him, is still wanted by the United States.
Before the FBI took it down in early 2012 and detained Dotcom and other company leaders, prosecutors claim Megaupload made at least $175 million, mostly from users who used the site to download music, television shows, and movies illegally.
Following a decade of living in New Zealand on bail, Ortmann told the news outlet Stuff that the couple had deep roots in the nation and were making a positive impact on society with Mega, a genuine cloud-storage business they founded after their imprisonment.
We are putting these proceedings behind us and admitting responsibility since there is absolutely no purpose in continuing to think about them, Ortmann stated.
Van der Kolk claimed that they had grown from their errors.
He said in an interview with Stuff, “We’ve worked hard on Mega and we strongly feel that our rehabilitation process has started a long time ago.”
Dotcom and the other men’s attorneys have always maintained that if anyone was at fault in the case, it was the site’s users who decided to steal content rather than the founders. Prosecutors countered that the men were the masterminds behind a big criminal business.
Formerly close friends, Dotcom and the other two guys fell out over their involvement in the Mega website and subsequent arrests.
Before now, American prosecutors had abandoned their effort to extradite Finn Batato, a fourth corporate officer who had been detained in New Zealand. Batato traveled back to Germany, where he passed away earlier this month from cancer.
The trio could be extradited, the Supreme Court of New Zealand determined in 2017. The country’s justice minister has yet to decide definitively whether the extradition — now only of Dotcom — will proceed.
Even that judgment might be challenged, which would add more time to the lengthy New Zealand judicial process.
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