Dotcom deportation decision on hold

An Immigration NZ report on possible deportation of Kim Dotcom is on hold until after his extradition has been fully dealt with.

NZH Exclusive: Inquiry into deporting Kim Dotcom is complete but Immigration NZ is keeping its findings secret – even from its minister

Immigration NZ has completed an investigation into whether Kim Dotcom can be deported from New Zealand for failing to declare a dangerous driving conviction – but it’s refusing to say what the outcome is.

The department has not even told its new minister, Iain Lees-Galloway, the inquiry is complete although legal experts say it almost certainly would recommend Dotcom be deported.

But that won’t happen without the report going to Lees-Galloway – it’s his job to make the decision.

Immigration NZ won’t say what the outcome is and instead aims to wait for the end of the legal fight to extradite Dotcom to the United States to stand trial for alleged copyright breaches.

Immigration NZ’s resolutions manager Margaret Cantlon said “any question” of Dotcom’s deportation would not go to Lees-Galloway until the extradition proceedings, including appeals and any judicial review, were finished.

“INZ has not briefed the new minister on the deportation case.”

Deportation would interfere with the long running extradition process that is back in court (Court of Appeal) at the moment.

If deported, Dotcom would likely be sent back to Germany, which would pose a problem for the United States because it has different extradition rules. Germany has already refused to extradite one of the Megaupload accused within its borders.

Deportation “looked a slam dunk”:

Lane Neave law firm partner Mark Williams said the final decision was down to Lees-Galloway and “the minister is going to hope extradition does the job for him”.

It would save carrying out unnecessary work, potentially fighting through the court and save the minister from a political hot potato.

“My view is if it got to the position where the minister was looking at this under a National government, it would be a practical certainty he would be deported.”

Under the new government, he said it still looked a “slam dunk” because it was the second time a new conviction had emerged. “That would not be viewed favourably at all.”

Williams, who is considered an international expert on immigration law, holds roles at leading universities and sits on the NZ Law Society immigration committee, said the international perception of New Zealand’s immigration system was important.

“You’d almost have to deport someone like that to send a message.”

If Dotcom survives extradition and faces deportation he is unlikely to go without another legal fight.

Dotcom has called deportation the government’s “plan B” if efforts to extradite him to the United States fail. But he has said that effort to remove him would result in another fight through the courts.

Williams said appeals were heard by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal and could be subject to judicial review at the High Court. Successful appeals beyond the High Court were rare.

Dotcom’s situation, his amount of financial resources and his determination to fight through the courts are also rare.