Megaupload found Kim Dotcom 'surrenders' to the US
KIM Dotcom, founder of the Megaupload filesharing website, has offered to fly to the United States to face trial without being extradited from New Zealand.
The surprise move by the flamboyant German national, who has been fighting a bitter legal battle with US prosecutors over alleged copyright breaches said to have cost owners more than $500 million, came in a tweet to his followers on Wednesday.
His offer was conditional, insisting that in return US federal authorities must guarantee him and three co-accused bail and unfreeze seized funds so he can pay for his defence.
A New Zealand resident, 38-year-old Mr Dotcom was arrested when police swooped on his sprawling mansion outside Auckland in January, and seized millions of dollars’ worth of funds and assets on behalf of the FBI.
Megaupload's websites were shut down by the US Justice Department.
Mr Dotcom said in his tweet: "Hey DOJ (Department of Justice), we will go to the US. No need for extradition. We want bail, funds unfrozen for lawyers & living expenses."
An extradition hearing sought by the FBI had been scheduled to start in Auckland on August 6, but was last week delayed until next year.
The delay resulted from the case becoming bogged down in legal wrangles, among them a ruling by New Zealand's High Court that the raid on Dotcom's mansion was illegal because the search warrants used by police were too broad.
Mr Dotcom, who is on bail at his mansion, also took to Twitter to vent his frustration over the delay.
"Extradition hearing delayed til March. Dirty delay tactics by the US. They destroyed my business. Took all my assets. Time does the rest," he tweeted.
He told the New Zealand Herald that the delays in the case were putting pressure on his ability to defend the charges.
"They are sitting on all my money. I have no money to pay my lawyers.
"Every move they make, they know I have to send my lawyers there,” he said.
Mr Dotcom said his legal bills were huge, with 22 lawyers working on the case in different countries.
The FBI alleges that Mr Dotcom's business has netted $175 million since 2005 by copying and distributing music, films and other copyrighted content without authorisation.
His lawyers argue that the company simply offered online storage.
Mr Dotcom, who denies any wrongdoing, faces up to 20 years jail if convicted in a US court.
US authorities have not commented on the offer in Mr Dotcom's tweet.