Internet Party to “relieve the family of his threat of extradition”

While much of today’s focus has been on Kim Dotcom tells court he is ‘broke, destitute and penniless’ – his financial situation – there’s some comments amongst the coverage that point to something else of interest.

The High Court in Auckland has also heard that Mona Dotcom was initially hesitant to donate money to the Internet Mana political party, at her husband’s suggestion, but eventually agreed the family trust would give $400,000.

Why?

She believed Dotcom’s claims that his involvement with the Internet Mana party would eventually relieve the family of his threat of extradition, she said.

“At the end I was fine with it because Kim explained to me how this Internet Party would benefit us and the kids because it would help him with his political issues,” she said.

She says the Internet Party was intended to help Dotcom with his “political issues” and “relieve the family of his threat of extradition”.

If I remember correctly Dotcom denied his party was targeting his extradition although that was widely believed to be a significant motive.

UPDATE: Dotcom on The Nation, 30 March 2014:

Dotcom: Well I have to say I was actually quite disappointed when some MPs linked this to my extradition, you know. I think that was very unfortunate because I believe in the New Zealand judicial system, and I wouldn’t accept any minister of justice to overrule what that courts are deciding after, you know a long time evaluating all these legal challenges. So I think that would be wrong, and that’s not why I’m doing this.

So just to be clear, you would be happy for the justice minister to sign the dotted line, you wouldn’t want them to overturn a decision from the courts?

Dotcom: If the courts come to the decision that I should be extradited, well then that’s how it should be.

Dotcom’s response

Kim Dotcom has responded via Twitter to the guilty plea and subsequent sentencing of one of Megaupload’s programmers, Andrus Nõmm – see Mega-admission of Megaupload guilt, rapid sentence for Nomm.

@KimDotcom:

The US Justice system: An innocent coder pleads guilty after 3 years of DOJ abuse, with no end in sight, in order to move on with his life.

I have nothing but compassion and understanding for Andrus Nomm and I hope he will soon be reunited with his son.

The good news: After 3 years the German government is releasing the assets of defendants and my mother will get her car back :-)

“I would sign anything to get out of this mess.”
– Andrus Nomm Source: A witness for the defense.

We are back in court in New Zealand and Hong Kong soon to get funds unfrozen for lawyers so the DOJ can’t force us into fantasy plea deals.

The long legal battle looks set to continue. And also the PR battle:

Top 3 list of safe career choices:

1. Bankster
2. CIA Torturer
3. Racist Police Officer

Source: Department of Justice

And…

Top 3 list of dangerous career choices:

1. Journalist
2. Whistleblower
3. Cloud Storage Provider

Source: Department of Justice

He presumably classifies himself and Megaupload as ‘Cloud Storage Provider ‘.

His problem is that Nomm has admitted guilt to not just providing cloud storage but also to encouraging the uploading and downloading of copyright material, in particular movies and sings.

The name differentiates Dotcom’s business focus from other cloud storage providers.

It wasn’t called Megastorage, it was called Megaupload – with a big emphasis on encouraging uploading and downloading. They offered financial incentives to people who uploaded material that was popular to download.

The big question is whether they knowingly encouraged the upload and download of copyright material or whether they were ignorant of the content that made up a lot of their traffic.

Nomm’s admissions and guilty plea deal will make the defence of ignorance Megadifficult.

Nomm to testify against Dotcom

After giving himself up in the USA, admitting guult and being sentenced – see  Mega-admission of Megaupload guilt, rapid sentence for Nomm – Andrus Nõmm is also set to testify against Kim Dotcom and co-defendants if/when they are extradited.

NZ Herald calls it Blow to Dotcom as co-accused pleads guilty.

Kim Dotcom’s long-running legal battle has suffered a blow after one of his co-accused pleaded guilty – and will now testify against his former colleagues.

In one of the biggest developments since Dotcom’s Coatesville compound was raided three years ago, computer programmer Andrus Nomm pleaded guilty to internet piracy in a Virginia court on Friday.

The 36-year-old struck a plea bargain deal with the US Justice Department, admitting he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files. Nomm will serve a year and a day behind bars.

As part of Nomm’s plea bargain, he agreed his co-accused, including Megaupload founder Dotcom, knew Megaupload.com and other sites the group operated contained copyright-infringing materials and they were making money from it.

Nomm said he brought up copyright infringement to colleagues, noting files he was sent to review for errors had FBI piracy warnings.

Dotcom and his lawyer Ira Rothken are trying to play down this development.

His attorney, Ira Rothken, told the Herald on Sunday the guilty plea did not serve as a precedent.

“If Mr Nomm testifies in a truthful manner … we expect that his testimony will help the defence.

“It’s a plea bargain of convenience and the Department of Justice seems to have used this as a Hollywood-style publicity stunt to try to elevate the status of their case.”

But it’s also a plea-bargain of significant inconvenience to Dotcom’s defence. It may also put pressure on other defendants.

Mega-admission of Megaupload guilt, rapid sentence for Nomm

After surrendering to the US authiortities in Virginia last week – see A plea deal against Dotcom? - ex-Megaupload programmer Andrus Nõmm has pleased guilty and been sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

This isn’t a good sign for Kim Dotcom and the other accused who are still fighting extradition.

Ars Technica reports: Megaupload programmer pleads guilty, sentenced to a year in prison

Andrus Nõmm “was aware that copyright-infringing content was stored” on-site.

Federal prosecutors have achieved their first guilty plea and prison sentence in the Megaupload criminal case that has dragged on for over three years.

Andrus Nõmm—who was arrested this week in Virginia after years of fighting extradition in the Netherlands—pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement. He was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison, according to a press release issued by the Department of Justice on Friday.

American criminal charges against the six co-defendants related to Megaupload, including Kim Dotcom, still remain pending. All of the Megaupload defendants (most notably founder Kim Dotcom) have been battling extradition and fighting the government’s case from outside US borders. (Ars profiled Dotcom’s extradition efforts last month.)

Prosecutors also added that Nõmm “agreed to waive his extradition hearing in the Netherlands, where he was arrested in January 2012, and plead guilty in the United States.”

And Nomm has agreed with prosecutirs that he knew that Megaupload were knowingly flaunting copyright. The Department of Justice press release details:

In court papers, Nomm agreed that the harm caused to copyright holders by the Mega Conspiracy’s criminal conduct exceeded $400 million. He further acknowledged that the group obtained at least $175 million in proceeds through their conduct.

Megaupload.com had claimed that, at one time, it accounted for four percent of total Internet traffic, having more than one billion total visits, 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors.

In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Nomm admitted that he was a computer programmer who worked for the Mega Conspiracy from 2007 until his arrest in January 2012.

Nomm further admitted that, through his work as a computer programmer, he was aware that copyright-infringing content was stored on the websites, including copyright protected motion pictures and television programs, some of which contained the “FBI Anti-Piracy” warning.

Nomm also admitted that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from the Mega websites. Despite his knowledge in this regard, Nomm continued to participate in the Mega Conspiracy.

Even a year in prison for someone not previously acquainted with criminal processes is a major penalty, but if Dotcom is extradited and charged and found guilty he coukld expect a heftier sentence.

It can be guessed that Nomm has plea bargained to reduce his sentence, probably in return for hammering the bigger fish.

A plea deal against Dotcom?

An interesting development in Kim Dotcom related legal issues – a co-accused appears to have given up fighting extradition and voluntarily gone to Virginia to be arrested. Stuff reports in Ex-MegaUpload exec arrested in US

News agency AP reported that Estonian software programmer Andrus Nomm, who was described in a US indictment in 2012 as the head of MegaUpload’s software development division, had been arrested by US police in Alexandria, Virginia, yesterday.

Nomm was originally arrested by Dutch police in Rotterdam days after New Zealand police raided Dotcom’s rented Coatesville mansion in 2012.

He had been fighting extradition to the US and initial reports did not make clear whether he had travelled to Virginia voluntarily, sparking speculation of a possible plea bargain.

The charges against him include copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Nomm had his own counsel and was hardly mentioned in the original US grand jury indictment of Dotcom and his co-accused, he said.

Nomm could be just trying to front up and get things over with. He would be have been severly restricted in what he could do and where he could travel.

Or he could be also be helping investigators with their inquiries.

More detail from The daily Courier (Canada) – Estonian man indicted in Megaupload case 1st to face charges in US

U.S. District Court records indicate that Andrus Nomm was arrested Monday in Alexandria, Virginia, where he is one of seven men indicted three years ago in the Megaupload case. He was initially arrested in the Netherlands in 2012 and had been fighting extradition.

A transfer to the U.S. under these circumstances can sometimes indicate that a plea deal has been struck, but there was no indication of that in court records. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office had no immediate comment.

Nomm is the first of the seven to be brought to the U.S. to face charges. Megaupload’s founder, Kim Dotcom, has been fighting extradition from New Zealand since 2012, publically criticizing the case against him and mocking prosecutors as Hollywood lackeys for shutting down his site under pressure from the film industry.

Nomm’s public profile does not match that of the flamboyant Dotcom or some of the others charged in the Megaupload case. The indictment describes him as a programmer and head of Megaupload’s software development division. It says he was paid more than $100,000 by Megaupload in 2010. The charges against him include copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

The indictment says Nomm is an Estonian citizen but a resident of both Estonia and Turkey.

Three years since Dotcom raid

It’s been three years since the raid on Kim Dotcom on 20 January 2012.

Ars Technica marks the date and summarises progress (or lack therof):

Why Kim Dotcom hasn’t been extradited 3 years after the US smashed Megaupload

On January 20, 2012, New Zealand authorities raided Dotcom’s mansion, complete with two helicopters, as part of the American-led global shutdown of his Hong Kong-based file sharing company.

An extradition hearing is set for June 2015. Based on history, don’t hold your breath.

It’s not a bad summary but curiously they don’t say much about Dotcom’s lawyers quitting the case late last year.

Wikipedia’s summary of the Megaupload legal case

And going back into Dotcom’s past: Die Welt on Kim Schmitz/Dotcom

Dotcom claims he doesn’t want to leave New Zealand

In response to the Herald claiming that Kim Dotcom wants to leave New Zealand – Dotcom says he wants to face trial in the US :

Embattled internet tycoon Kim Dotcom says he is now considered a pariah and is looking to quit New Zealand.

Dotcom has responded.

@KimDotcom
The US DOJ won’t agree to me having bail and assets unfrozen for my legal defense because they have no confidence in their bogus case.

Or maybe they see him as a flight risk and don’t want him spending and hiding all his assets.

Then:

@KimDotcom
Media claiming that I want to leave NZ is simply false. But I do appreciate getting so many nice messages. Thank you.

He linked to one message of support:

Dotcom-Myers

Other tweets of support seem a bit over the top:

Murray ‏@unclemuzza
Yep, agree totally with Tony. We’ve always been in your corner, Battler Kiwi Kim and will remain there come what may!

Ratu Tibble ‏@RatuTibble
@KimDotcom You are NZs greatest citizen. You have served the internet world well. And your vision for Maori – computer education

He isn’t a New Zealand citizen. He has residency.

Mark Ryan ‏@markryan1956
@KimDotcom Woah kim…keep them at bay …you are NEEDED here man !!!

Robin Westenra ‏@seemorerocks
@KimDotcom I feel ashamed to be a NZer. You have done yr best to wake people up. Thank you!

Cardinal Karl Pearce ‏@KarlDotKiwi
@KimDotcom there is still plenty of us here who still want to see you win. There are plenty of Maori who are on your side

He still has a fanclub.

But Dotcom must have talked to the Herald as they quoted him. Perhaps he since found out or realised that the chance of bail or getting his assets back were minimal so he was trying to rebuild support in New Zealand.

Newstalk ZB also reported Little chance of charity in Dotcom deal:

Mr Dotcom says he’s ready to leave New Zealand after the backlash from his involvement in politics.

But he wants the Government to negotiate terms for his surrender, saying it’s the least they can do, after he was wronged.

However a spokesman for National has dismissed Mr Dotcom’s plea. He told Newstalk ZB there’s an extradition treaty which sets out the process, and it’s very rare for anyone to get special treatment.

This and the Herald quotes followed by Dotcom’s denial seems very strange.

Kim Dotcom has 442K followers. I’m not one of them: “You are blocked from following @KimDotcom and viewing @KimDotcom’s Tweets.”

Dotcom says he wants to face trial in the US

In “an exclusive interview with theHerald on Sunday” Kim Dotcom says he wants to voluntarily go to the US to face trial – ‘Pariah’ Dotcom prepares to quit NZ.

Embattled internet tycoon Kim Dotcom says he is now considered a pariah and is looking to quit New Zealand.

He said he was renewing his offer to the Department of Justice to voluntarily travel to the US for his trial. But this was on the condition he was given bail and that assets seized in the 2012 Dotcom mansion raid are returned to him.

From the outset he has maintained his innocence and says he is confident of winning any court action against him.

“What’s the problem with me having bail then I’m out of here.

“The Prime Minister will forget about me, New Zealanders will forget about me and I will be gone.”

He said he was sure he and his estranged wife, who currently lives in an adjacent home on his expansive Coatesville compound, could come to an arrangement that meant he was in constant contact with his five children.

“I’m sure Mona would go to the US with the kids.”

That would be a big move for Mona and the kids. Is it and assumption or wishful thinking, or has Mona indicated she would be willing to move?

Dotcom was at a loss to explain why the tide of public opinion had turned so harshly against him.

“It’s turned into something very ugly,” he said. “Now I am a pariah.

“The funny thing is I haven’t changed and I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong. I’m still the same guy who only a matter of months ago people were cheering for.”

What has changed is that he tried to manufacture a change of government and in doing so he exposed himself much more to the New Zealand public.

He got some initial support for his Internet-Mana project but as people saw more of him the support faded. Amongst a number of obnoxious things he bragged about hacking the leader of Germany because he didn’t like him and implied he would do the same to Key, who he said he disliked.

He pariahed himself.

It has also been reported:

“He is ready to leave NZ after his failure with his political party, and wants the government to negotiate his surrender to the USA”.

The government has said they don’t negotiate for those who are being extradited.

There’s no way the Government could negotiate terms for an extradition. It’s a legal issue, not a horse trading market.

Dotcom could try negotiating with the US. If he went there voluntarily they would no longer need to extradite him.

This change of tack suggests Dotcom doesn’t like his chances of avoiding extradition.

“Puffed up little shit”

The reviews of politics in 2014 continue in holiday fillers. Today NZ Herald has The year of speaking dangerously: the worst gaffe’s of 2014.

Their number one gaffe (and “quote of the year”) is Pam Corkery’s “puffed-up little shit” tirade.

Hot on the heels of the Dirty Politics scandal, Ms Corkery was steaming after a TV One reporter grew indignant when told Kim Dotcom would not give interviews at the party’s official campaign launch.

That’s a Herald gaffe. It was TV3’s Brook Sabin.

“You puffed-up little shit,” Ms Corkery said. “He doesn’t want to. He said three times, ‘I don’t want to give you an interview.’ He’s not a candidate. He doesn’t owe you anything.”

‘He’ is Kim Dotcom. He doesn’t owe the media anything. But he was a prominent part of the Internet-Mana campaign, so avoiding awkward media questions was not a good look.

And Corkery’s outburst was a worse look. She was Laila Harre’s media manager. This was major mis-management.

Media commentator Russell Brown called the Corkery outburst “ruinous and unprofessional”.

It was certainly very unprofessional. Corkery was obviously annoyed and frustrated but having been an MP and in media she knows how it all works. She lost her cool.

Was it ruinous? It certainly didn’t help the Internet-Mana campaign, but Dotcom’s omnipresence was a major turnoff as well, and Harre’s willingness to dump principles to become a paid promoter of Dotcom’s vanity/revenge campaign didn’t help either. Nor did Mana and Hone Harawira’s bizarre alliance with Dotcom.

In the One News coverage of Corkery’s outburst they included the reason for wanting to interview Dotcom from comments he made at his party’s campaign launch:

And I hacked out German credit rating system, and put our Prime Minister’s credit rating to zero because I didn’t like the guy.

And you have all figured by now there’s another Prime Minister I don’t like.

He had been saying that at meetings around the country. Promoting his hacking because “I didn’t like the guy” on it’s own was ill-advised. But this was just after the Whaledump release of hacked data so it hardly surprising media would have an interest in possible connections between Dotcom and the hacking news of the day.

There were obvious tensions within Internet-Mana, with Harawira not speaking at the launch.

The pressure of the campaign and lack of control of the media narrative resulted in Corkery’s comment.

But Internet-Mana’s main problem was how voters saw who was willing to dish out shit but tried to avoid being held to account.

“Puffed up little shit” was a reaction but highlighted bigger problems. It backfired badly, drawing more negative attention to the perception of Internet-Mana’s own puffed up big shit.

Slater accuses Hager of hacking complicity

A post on Whale Oil has typical wishes for Dotcom on his latest legal setback but also accuses Nicky Hager of complicity in hacking – Merry Effin’ Christmas Kim and Nicky

Dotcom’s delaying tactics are running out of steam.

One thing this case does though is make Nicky Hager’s attempts to do the same thing almost forlorn.

He too is delaying because he knows that he hasn’t told the truth about his interaction with the hacker, and likely also his own interactions with the paymaster of the hacker.

Word has been around for months that the police know the identity of ‘Rawshark’. Some journalists should know.

The raid on Nicky Hager may have been to check out more than just who Rawshark is.

Slater’s wife ‘Spanish Bride’ adds:

When you visited the Dotcom mansion all those times what did you talk about Nicky?

You were happy enough to visit him more than once and eat with him yet you expect us to believe that if he was the hackers paymaster you would have not used the stolen e-mails? Pull the other one Nicky.

You admit you went looking for the hacker to talk him into giving it to you to make into a book. You wanted it BAD.

You never did explain why Kim Dotcom being the paymaster would have put you off. Why would it? You said the hackers’s motivation was dislike of Cameron and that didn’t worry you so why would Kim Dotcom’s desire for revenge for Cam’s sunlight on his activities worry you?

I’ll be posting on investigations into Hager’s claims about his interactions with the hacker soon.

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