Dotcom’s email evidence was a forgery – SFO

Kim Dotcom’s extravagant town hall ‘Moment of Truth’ during the 2014 election campaign fell flat in part because an email that Dotcom planned to produce to prove John Key’s collusion with Hollywood fell through when it was claimed to be a forgery.

The Serious Fraud Office has now put out a statement saying that they are satisfied that the email was a forgery.

NZ Herald: SFO: Kim Dotcom’s smoking gun email evidence was a ‘forgery’

The Herald can today report for the first time that the SFO investigated the email, which emerged on the eve of the 2014 election claiming then-Prime Minister John Key was involved in a conspiracy to get Dotcom.

It is also a definite statement rejecting any possibility the email is genuine.

In a statement, the SFO said: “The SFO confirms that it carried out an investigation into this matter. As a result of that investigation, the SFO is satisfied that the email was a forgery.”

Dotcom said today that he still believed the email to be genuine and was surprised the SFO was able to be so definite.

“I believe the email to be real,” he said.

But he backed off revealing it at his ‘Moment of Truth’.

The purported email was from Warner Bros chief executive Kevin Tsujihara to the Motion Picture Association of America’s Asia-Pacific president Michael Ellis.

It was dated the day Key met Tsujihara and was in the midst of Immigration NZ’s consideration of Dotcom’s residency.

dotcomemail8

A Warner Bros senior vice president told the Herald at the time: “Kevin Tsujihara did not write or send the alleged email, and he never had any such conversation with Prime Minister Key. The alleged email is a fabrication.”

A spokeswoman for the MPAA said: “Mike Ellis never received this alleged email or discussed this matter with Kevin Tsujihara.”

Dotcom said today that the email was “easy to discredit” because it did not have “headers” – detailed information which shows the internet protocol address from which it was sent or the relays and servers it passed through.

As a result, he “could not use it at the Moment of Truth” – the event he organised at the Auckland Town Hall the week before the 2014 election. There, whistleblower Edward Snowden, Julian Assange of Wikileaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald made claims of mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

“It was a huge disappointment and distracted from the bigger picture: The Government and its participation in mass surveillance,” Dotcom said.

That was all timed to try and swing the election against the National government. Dotcom was financing and promoting his own Internet Party, which not only failed itself it also dragged down the Mana Party.

The email is back in the spotlight thanks to a new taxpayer-funded documentary into the Dotcom case. Kim Dotcom: Caught In The Web, which premiered at the SXSW film festival in the United States this week, includes the German-born entrepreneur talking about the origins of the email.

In the documentary, he says: “That email, I know it comes from hacker circles. You know about the famous Sony Hack. The same people who were responsible for that hack, were responsible for this hack.”

But it was text only, without the details necessary to prove authenticity.

Investigators familiar with SFO methods told the Herald the definite statement the email was a forgery revealed an deep and forensic-style investigation.

One investigator with SFO experience said the agency would have sought statements or interviews from the named executives and access to the servers. It would have studied the format and style of the email to see if it was consistent with where it was supposed to have come from.

Checking servers of the purported recipient and sender would be essential too. “If you did both parties and neither had it, that would be a strong basis to support the argument it was a forgery.”

He said the inquiry would also have involved each person believed or known to have contact being considered.

The SFO have gone further than saying that the email can’t be authenticated, they have stated that they think it was a forgery.

It’s hard to believe that Dotcom would fabricate a bogus email as he would known it would be denied.

Was Dotcom set up? If so, by whom, and why? Was it done to try to help Dotcom, or to try to trash his credibility?

Dotcom – Trump

refers to CNN (from last September): Is Trump right? Could a 400-pound couch potato have hacked the DNC?

Russia might be behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee, according to US officials and lawmakers — but not Donald Trump.

The Republican presidential nominee came up with many alternative possibilities at the first general election debate on Monday night.

“It could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people,” he said during the first presidential debate. “It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

(400 pounds = 181 kilograms)

So a monster bed potato, not a couch potato.

Yesterday:

Dotcom-Trump

I can’t find that on Twitter now, but Dotcom has tweeted since:

Dotcom-Trump-2

Bizarre. How would Dotcom know this?

Why are Dotcom and Wikileaks so keen to help Trump?

I don’t trust US spying but I wouldn’t put much faith in those who think Trump can fix it all. Or are Trump and Assange more interested in getting onside with Trump so he will help them?

 

Dotcom to appeal after High Court judgment

As expected Dotcom will appeal.


Media Statement From Dotcom Legal Team.

This case is no longer the “largest criminal copyright case”, 1 at least as far as New Zealand is concerned. As we have said all along, there is no such offence under our Copyright Act. We were right. However, this afternoon the High Court judgment 2 was issued and, ultimately, although it concluded we are right, 3 the Court concluded that Kim is still eligible for surrender.

To win the major plank 4 of the case but to get that outcome is extremely disappointing. However, we are far from defeated. It is hard to accept the logic that, if the conduct that all accept at its heart relates to assertions of breach of copyright is not an offence under that Act, how it can nonetheless be massaged into a general fraud offence. In fact, that thinking has been rejected outright in the Supreme Court in the United States.

The High Court has accepted that Parliament made a clear and deliberate decision not to criminalise this type of alleged conduct by internet service providers, 5 making them not responsible for the acts of their users. For the Court to then permit the same conduct to be categorised as a type of fraud in our view disrupts Parliament’s clear intent. The High Court decision means that Parliament’s intended protection for internet service providers is now illusory. That will be a concern for internet service providers and impact on everyone’s access to the internet.

The last hurdle to what we say is the correct outcome – no extradition – will now need to be determined by the Court of Appeal. We remain confident that this last point, which would prevent extradition in this complex and unprecedented legal case, will be resolved in Kim’s favour in a manner consistent with Parliament’s intent, international law and, importantly one might think, the United States’ own law.

Whilst many have struggled to get beyond the United States’ hype in this politically charged and misunderstood case, an objective observer will now realise that there is much more to this case than they were previously informed of from the District Court judgment.

Whether Kim has committed an offence under New Zealand copyright law has finally now been answered in his favour; he has not. Whether our law should still permit him to be extradited to the United States under an Act that has no interest in copyright, is the question that remains now to be answered by our Courts. We say no and we are confident that this must be right.

Whether you are a supporter of Kim’s or not, these are important principles of law for us all and the very issues that we need our justice system to grapple with if we want a credible and safe process for extradition to any requesting country, including those with whom we have a close commercial and political relationship.

Ron Mansfield, Barrister

Dotcom Legal Team

1 https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-charges-leaders-megaupload-widespread-online-copyright-infringement

2 Ortmann & Ors v United States of America [2017] NZHC 189.

3 See paragraphs [169]-[192] (in particular [192]).

4 See paragraph [591].

5 See paragraph [183].

(Dotcom and) Ortmann v The United States of America

High Court media release on a judgment on the extradition of Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, Kim Dotcom, Finn Batato to the United States.


Result

In a judgment released today the High Court has confirmed that Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, Kim Dotcom, Finn Batato (the appellants) are eligible for extradition under section 24 of the Extradition Act 1999.

The United States Government has been seeking the appellants’ extradition to face trial on 13 counts including allegations of conspiracy to commit racketeering; copyright infringement; money laundering and wire fraud since 2012.

The High Court has found that the District Court decision in December 2015 finding that the appellants are eligible for extradition was flawed but that the errors in the judgment were immaterial because there are available pathways for extradition on each count.

The key legal questions

In extradition proceedings the primary role of the Court is to determine whether the requested persons are eligible for surrender in relation to the offences for which surrender is sought. Broadly speaking, this requires the Court to follow a two-step approach.

First, the Court must be satisfied that the alleged conduct constituting the essence of the offence for which surrender is sought correlates to an “extradition offence”. In this case, because there is an extradition treaty, this will depend on whether the conduct correlates to an offence listed in the NZ-US Treaty or deemed to be listed in it by the Extradition Act.

Second, if the Court is satisfied that the offences for which surrender is sought are extradition offences, it must then determine whether the evidence relied on by the requesting State (the US) is sufficient to justify a trial if the offence had been committed in New Zealand. This is what is commonly referred to as a prima facie case – is there sufficient evidence for a properly directed to jury to convict?

Contents of the judgment

The essence of the United States’ case is that the appellants, as officers of Megaupload, were party to a conspiracy to profit from copyright infringement by users of Megaupload’s services.

One of the central issues in the case is whether copyright infringement by digital online communication of copyright protected works to members of the public is a criminal offence in New Zealand under the Copyright Act. The High Court has held that it is not, contrary to the conclusion reached in the District Court. The appellants have therefore succeeded with one of the main planks of their case.

However, the High Court has found that a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement amounts to a conspiracy to defraud and is therefore an extradition offence listed in the USNZ Treaty. Further, other extradition pathways are available for all counts because of their correlation to a number of serious crimes in the Crimes Act. These offences are deemed to be listed in the Treaty by a provision in the Extradition Act, subject to various criteria being met.

The High Court has confirmed the conclusion reached by the District Court that the evidence relied on by the United States for the purposes of extradition does satisfy the prima facie case test against each appellant on each count. The High Court has also confirmed that the District Court was correct to dismiss the appellants’ applications for a permanent stay of the extradition proceedings for alleged abuse of process.

Decision

The District Court judgment finding that the appellants are eligible for surrender to the United States on all counts in the indictment is confirmed.


The full High Court judgment is here: Ortmann v The United States of America

High Court: Dotcom and co-accused eligible for extradition

The High Court has just released a decision saying that Kim Dotcom cannot be extradited for copyright infringement, but there are grounds for extradition on “general criminal law fraud provisions”.

NZ Herald: Kim Dotcom and co-accused eligible for extradition to US, says High Court

In the High Court finding released today, Justice Murray Gilbert upheld a decision by the District Court that there were grounds for the quartet to be extradited,

But the judge has also supported an argument made by Dotcom’s legal team that he and his former Megaupload colleagues cannot be extradited on copyright infringement grounds.

He said that was because “online communication of copyright protected works to the public is not a criminal offence in New Zealand”.

He said it meant the accused could not be extradited to the US on copyright grounds.

Instead, Justice Gilbert said there were “general criminal law fraud provisions” which covered the actions of the accused and they could be extradited on that basis.

He said he agreed with District Court judge Nevin Dawson that there was enough information to make the decision based on accepting a “record of the case” put forward by the US which detailed the evidence it claimed to hold against the Megaupload accused.

Dotcom’s lawyer is claiming a victory.

Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield claimed victory from the ruling, saying the case was no longer the “largest criminal copyright case”.

“As we have said all along, there is no such offence under our Copyright Act. We were right.”

That may be so, but if Dotcom can be still be extradited that is hardly a victory.

And it probably won’t be the last attempt to prevent extradition. I presume there are appeal steps yet to come.

NZ Herald has an interview with Dotcom on this: Kim Dotcom legal saga: Extradition to US over Megaupload still on cards but he claims court ruling is a ‘major victory’

What about Internet Party 1.0?

Dotcom’s Internet Party, combined with the Mana Party, failed to get close to the 5% threshold in the 2014 election, getting 1.42% of the vote (34,094), and with Hone Harawira failing to hold his Te Tai Tokerau seat so they missed out on getting into Parliament.

After the election Laila Harre resigned as leader – she recently indicated she had joined Labour and wanted to stand in an electorate for them.

Since then the party has maintained an online presence but with no sign of who is running the party and with a very low profile – Dotcom seemed to desert it.

Since the election in the monthly Roy Morgan poll the Internet Party has had no result (less than 0.5%) in every poll except for getting 0.5% in June and October this year.

They still have a website but there appears to be little new, and there is no sign of any people being involved – perhaps it’s become a robot party.

They keep things ticking over on their Facebook page. After Trump won the US election they posted:

Internet Party was feeling optimistic.
9 November ·
If Britain can get Brexit
and America can get TrumpNew Zealand can get the Left into power in 2017

That got 288 likes so there is still interest in the party. In early December:

We are stoked, of course.

But we still need people to write good articles for us, the Internet Party, the Infomation Party, the one which is genuinely about a better future in all aspects … as much as ever. Please put the word out to the good investigative journalists that you know, or who are friends of friends and so on …

Mid December:

KDC is being given a bad rap from radio announcers since Laila Harre joined the Labour Party. Laila is a great person but small parties never served her well. We are delighted to see anyone with her vision and passion achieve a position of influence and we sincerely wish her great success in achieving this.

While The Internet Party has an identity, a life and policies all of its own – KDC started this good work, and the fact that this party even exists with it’s awesome policies is completely down to him.

I am no spokesperson, but all of the positive things that our members can say about the Party or KDC will help. Speak it, write it, show your support, every bit helps.

Thank you 🙂

For political parties to have identities they need people, and there is no sign of who is involved.

They have a Twitter account but it’s not very active, with the last tweet in February. The account is authorised by Fred Look, from Colville on the Coromandel Peninsula.

The Internet Party Constitution & Rules on Elections.Org.NZ states:

10 PARTY LEADER

10.1 The Internet Party will have a Party Leader. The Party Leader is responsible for managing the Internet Party’s Parliamentary affairs, should it be represented in Parliament.

10.2 The Party Leader is an automatic member of the Executive Committee with full voting and speaking rights.

10.3 Should the Internet Party not be represented in Parliament, the Party Leader will be either:

10.3.1 The candidate ranked number 1 on the Party List by the Executive Committee in an election year; or

10.3.2 A Full Member of the Internet Party approved by 75 per cent of the Executive Committee

Harre was ranked number 1 on the party List in election year and has resigned so that provision no longer applies.

I’m not aware of a new Party leader being approved by the Executive.

I thought that the original constitution gave special power to the party founder but can’t see any reference to that now.

The party received 16 donations in 2015 totalling $676.65
internet_party_return_of_donations_and_loans_2015.pdf (PDF 11.29 MB).

That’s in contrast to 2014 donations of $3,500,000 from Kim Dotcom (and no other donations)
Internet_Party_return_of_donations_and_loans_2014.pdf (PDF 10.12 MB)

Both those returns were signed by Fred Look, who seems to be the only person publicly associated with the party now.

I presume that Dotcom’s money and input would be welcomed again but I also presume that would have to go through a democratic process.

Getting credible candidates and especially a credible and high profile leader could be a challenge.

The Auckland revolutionaries seem to have moved on from the Internet Party and are quietly taking over the Labour Party.

Perhaps Labour will do a Memorandum of Understanding with the Internet Party – involving money for influence?

Internet Party 2.0

After the failure of the Internet Party in the 2014 election – and their dragging down of the Mana Party with them – Kim Dotcom acknowledged that his brand was toxic.

So why has he floated the idea of another tilt at political ego?

That vote is meaningless – if Andrew Little asked his Twitter followers if he should stand next year he’d get a few positive votes as well. So would John Key, probably far more than Dotcom and Little combined.

It’s hard to know what sort of game Dotcom is playing here.

He is unlikely to get Mana or any other party wanting him to piggy back off their electorate chances.

He would have to find a high profile person to lead the party, and Laila Harre is unlikely to do it again, she recently said she wanted to stand for Labour.

Perhaps Dotcom thinks he could emulate Donald Trump’s success.

Like millions of people wanting to be the Nek Minit in social media, it seems that many people are trying to emulate Trump’s success. Winston Peters fancies his chances despite being the opposite of Trump in political experience, and even Little has dabbled.

But New Zealand politics is very different to US politics.

I would be very surprised if Internet Party 2.0 could become a serious contender next year – especially if Dotcom was prominent, and it’s hard to see him not being prominent if he tries to reboot his political ambitions.

But this could be just game playing by Dotcom. Is he trying to leverage his influence with another party?

Labour would love the sort of financial support he could provide, but any Dotcom association would be higher risk than the Memorandum of Understanding with Greens, which has so far been unsuccessful.

Just before Christmas Dotcom tweeted:

Perhaps he sees an opportunity from that. Earlier in December:

Perhaps he is just trying to stir things up.

 

Dotcom claims leaked data for election

On Twitter Kim Dotcom has been hinting at disruption and another attempted hit job on next year’s election in New Zealand, and claims there is a mass of emails waiting to be leaked that were the reason for John Key’s resignation, and will be seriously damaging for the National Government.

National looks in a very strong position, especially compared to the alternatives.

Is he claiming to have been responsible for all of those?

Really? That was an overplayed embarrassing fizzer for Dotcom and is likely to have contributed to the poor election result for the Internet Party.

I think he is overrating his influence a bit there.

Yesterday the Spin Bin posted Bombshell Kim Dotcom Exclusive: 2TB of Leaked Govt Data Will Stun New Zealand In 2017 which included:

You have tweeted that an expected release of government information will take down the National Party in the next general election in 2017. What types of material can we expect to see?

Kim Dotcom: Why do you think John Key resigned? This wasn’t about his family. It’s more likely about the next election and 2 terabytes of emails and attachments that were taken from New Zealand government servers. I heard from a reliable source that the Podesta emails seem like cotton candy compared to the amount of disgusting dishonesty the National government will see leaked at the next election.

Why would ‘a reliable source’ tell Dotcom about this (if it is true)?

Key must know. He’s taken the parachute. He can’t stomach the kind of embarrassment that Clinton had to endure with daily releases of dirty emails. And this time even his media cronies couldn’t have saved him. The Internet and alternative media of reputable truth-telling websites are taking over. Leaks are the new political reality. Over time this will be the cure against dishonest politicians. They just can’t survive in this new environment of information.

So hackers and political activists will decide elections, including next year’s New Zealand election?

Despite the drip feeding of emails by WikiLeaks into the US election it was still a close win for trump, and that was probably swung by James Comey’s intervention.

Many people believe that Donald Trump may be of the same ilk as Hillary Clinton. Would a Labour-led coalition government in New Zealand really be a material difference to your case or any significant improvement for the wider public in general?

Current polls suggest that Labour is nowhere near credible as an alternative government. Dotcom/Wikileaks/whoever would have to seriously discredit National and Winston Peters to ensure a Labour+Greens win.

And there would be a good chance of it backfiring, as happened last election where despite Nicky Hager’s book and Dotcom’s ‘Moment of Truth’ the Internet Party flopped and Labour dropped to a record low.

Kim Dotcom: Donald Trump and Brexit are the punishment the elites deserve. Will the Donald drain the swamp? We will have to wait and see. The swamp is exactly what led to the unlawful destruction of my business and the military-style raid and illegal spying against my family.

A Labour government in New Zealand would have no incentive to drag out the monstrosities committed by John Key and his Attorney General Chris Finlayson against my family.

If so what good would it do helping Labour into power? Dotcom just wants to disrupt everything?

The Attorney General is using every tool of power at his disposal to prevent the unavoidable legal victory that is coming my way. He will fail and he might end up in jail himself.

I won’t stop until the truth about the real Mega conspiracy is fully unearthed. And I expect a Labour government will want an independent inquiry into my case which will see the National Party in disarray and embarrassment for years to come.

That’s contradicting his “no incentive” claim – unless he intends giving Labour an incentive via some generous donations?

This will be a brutal and costly experience for New Zealand but it will also be necessary so that something like this can’t happen again.

Something like Dotcom’s legal and extradition problems?

It appears as if he is prepared to ‘disrupt more than ever’, be brutal and inflict a ‘costly experience’ on New Zealand for his own purposes. I’m not sure how voters would view that but I doubt they will play his game for him.

Dotcom lost credibility last election and failed. On election night he admitted his brand was a significant problem with voters. I don’t think that has changed – all that has changed are his tactics.

I don’t know how he will engineer an electoral swing as big as his ego.

Dotcom planning for 2017 election

Kim Dotcom:

I’m getting ready for 2017 NZ election. This time I’ll spend far less, corrupt media won’t stop me, will change Govt with brilliant plan!

dotcomelection2017

which should be NOT to get involved! Didn’t you learn that last time?

The beauty about my new plan is that media bias and character assassination won’t work. I figured out how to get the youth to vote in 2017
🤓

I’m extremely competitive. I hate losing. When I lose I don’t stop learning until I can win. I may lose a few times but in the end I’ll win.

I don’t know if that is serious or just stirring or posturing.

He might have trouble getting a party of any note together. The Auckland left seem to be trying their luck with Labour now.

Yeah but you need to get them to vote *for you*

No. Youth votes for fairness. Their minds are not yet polluted with greed. They care about others & the planet. NZ Greens might get a boost.

Youth mostly don’t vote.

I’m not sure the Greens would be keen on getting some help from Dotcom.

why did you lose in 2014, do you think? Was it solely down to “corrupt media”?

Mostly media. John Key & National have the mainstream media under control. I underestimated that. This time the media spin won’t help them.

Thats the good thing about learning. You keep getting better. I was a political amateur. Now I understand their game & how to win. Watch me!

Sounds like he’s got a lot to learn yet.

Dotcom extradition appeal closing

The Kim Dotcom extradition appeal seems to have dropped off the local media radar. If it wasn’t for Nelly prodding away here it would just about have been forgotten.

The closing arguments were heard in Court in Auckland this week.

Reuters: Dotcom’s appeal against extradition to U.S. winds up in New Zealand, ruling likely weeks away

Lawyers for German entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, wanted in the United States on copyright infringement and money-laundering charges over his file-sharing website Megaupload, argued on Wednesday there was not enough evidence to show he conspired to commit a crime.

The Auckland court heard closing arguments in Dotcom’s four-week appeal against a lower court’s decision to extradite him to the U.S., the first New Zealand court proceedings to be broadcast live on the internet.

The appeal took place nearly five years after dozens of black-clad police rappelled into the flamboyant entrepreneur’s New Zealand mansion and cut him from a safe room.

U.S. authorities say Dotcom and three co-accused Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175 million by encouraging paying users to store and share copyrighted material.

The four deny wrongdoing and are on bail.

The case has been closely watched by the media industry and developers in the file-sharing business for signs of how far the United States is willing to go to protect copyright holders.

The appeal set a precedent when the judge gave permission for the hearing to be streamed on YouTube, but legal experts at the time had warned that appeals hearings tend to be similar to “watching paint dry”.

Rodriguez Ferrere said the “monolithically boring” nature of the entire proceeding “turned everybody off”.

The final afternoon’s proceedings only attracted around 100 viewers online, according to YouTube.

If it wasn’t for Nelly’s efforts here it may have been far fewer.

“Given the stakes of this case, the losing party will likely appeal any adverse judgment to the Court of Appeal,” said Ira Rothken, a lawyer representing Dotcom, in an email.

Unless the US pulls the plug on proceedings it is likely to limp on for years.

Nelly can switch to watching grass grow while she waits for the ruling. At least it’s spring.