Kim DotCom, the flamboyant founder of cyberlocker service MegaUpload, said in a New Zealand court today that he had been the victim of police brutality, according to published reports.
DotCom was arrested on January 19 at his home near Auckland, New Zealand, by more than 70 police officers who swooped in by helicopter and began pounding on the door. DotCom is allegedly the mastermind behind a criminal piracy operation that caused more than $500 million in damages to copyright owners. They assert that MegaUpload's managers pocketed more than $175 million by enabling people across the globe to store and share pirated movies, TV shows, videogames, music, and other media.
The Department of Justice indicted DotCom on January 5 and has accused him and six associates of Internet piracy, money laundering, and racketeering following a two-year FBI investigation. MegaUploads numerous sites have been taken down and many of DotCom's assets seized. Federal officials now seek to extradite him.
U.S. officials have told the court that if DotCom is allowed out on bail, he might escape to his home country of Germany, which has no extradition treating with the United States.
"I'm aware that if I go to Germany I would be unable to un-freeze my assets," DotCom told the court, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald. "What I want to do is stay here to fight and get my money back. What would I do in Germany with five kids and a wife with no money?"
A judge last week denied DotCom's request that he be freed on bail and his lawyers quickly appealed that decision. The 38-year-old, who was once convicted of insider trading, was in court today to argue his case for bail.
The Web site for New Zealand's 3News is reporting that DotCom told the court that police were "quite aggressive" when they stormed his house in the early hours of the morning. He said that when they took him into custody, they punched him the face, kicked him and stood on his hands.
Police in New Zealand reported that DotCom, who was born Kim Schmitz, failed to open the door of a specially designed safe room and they were forced to cut through the door. They also allege that DotCom did not obey demands that he show them their hands. Authorities also found a semi-automatic shotgun in the safe room with DotCom.
He told the court that the reason he refused to come out of the safe room because he was afraid of startling police and possibly getting shot. The government lawyers arguing for the United States allege that DotCom has already attempted to flee one court. They claim that he tried to escape Germany when authorities there accused him of insider trading.
They also allege that he when he was arrested, he was in possessed of credit cards and passports under different names and say that there's reason to believe DotCom has access to bank accounts that the U.S. government was unable to locate and freeze.
The judge who presided in the initial bail hearing said he was reluctant to set bail because of the credit cards and other documentation but also because DotCom was found in possession of what experts in New Zealand said was an illegal firearm.
There's no word yet on when the court hearing DotCom's appeal will make a decision.