Kim Dotcom and three colleagues face an extradition hearing that began Monday in an Auckland courtroom. Dotcom is the colorful German-born entrepreneur who started the Internet site Megaupload, which was shut down by federal authorities in 2012. Here’s what’s at stake:
THE CASE: U.S. prosecutors are trying to extradite Dotcom from his home in New Zealand to face trial in Virginia. His Megaupload site was once used by millions of people to store files and download songs and movies. Federal authorities accuse Dotcom of facilitating Internet piracy on a massive scale and have charged him with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, racketeering and money-laundering. Dotcom argues that plenty of people used his site for legitimate reasons he can’t be held responsible for those who chose to use it for illegal downloads. As well as Dotcom, the U.S. is also trying to extradite former Megaupload officers Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato.
THE HEARING: The hearing is expected to last about four weeks. U.S. prosecutors don’t have to prove Dotcom and his colleagues are guilty. Instead, they have a lower legal bar: proving the men have a case to answer, also known as a prima facie case. It’s similar to the level of proof that prosecutors would need to launch a criminal trial in the U.S.