A New Zealand High Court judge has ruled warrants used to seize property from Megaupload founder and accused internet pirate Kim Dotcom were illegal.
Justice Helen Winkelmann said on Thursday in a 145-page judgment the warrants were too broad and it was unlawful for the FBI to take copies of the computer data out of New Zealand. She ruled without a valid warrant police were trespassing and had exceeded their authority.
One New Zealand legal expert Rick Shera said it would be difficult for the extradition case to go forward without legally gathered evidence, but New Zealand prosecutors were not commenting on whether they would appeal the judgment.
The ruling followed Dotcom questioning the legality of the search warrants used to raid his mansion and seize a wide range of property including cars and paintings in January.
Further hearings are scheduled over various aspects of the Dotcom case in the lead up to the planned extradition hearing in August. Among the matters to be considered is what, if any, material seized by police can be used in the case against Dotcom or whether it should all be returned to him.
New Zealand authorities are challenging another ruling that they have to disclose evidence against Dotcom and his three co-accused – Mathias Ortmann, Fin Batato and Bram van der Kolk.
They are all charged with internet piracy, multiple copyright offences and wire fraud involving millions of dollars in relation to their file sharing website Megaupload. – Sapa-dpa