Bram van der Kolk, a suspect in the trial surrounding the ingredients service Megaupload, will not be extradited to the United States. As part of an agreement with New Zealand and US authorities, he will be charged in New Zealand, where he resides.
For years, lawsuits have been pending against Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, his right-hand man Mathias Ortmann and chief programmer Van der Kolk. They are suspected in the United States of copyright infringement and money laundering.
In 2012, Megaupload was taken offline by order of the FBI. The American film industry is said to have lost nearly 500 million euros because illegal copies of films were shared through the service. The three now all live in New Zealand, where they are contesting the extradition.
Now, after ten years, Van der Kolk and Ortmann have reached an agreement with the authorities there. “New Zealand is now our home and we want to stay there,” they wrote in a joint statement. “The continued uncertainty surrounding the extradition case has taken its toll and we want to move forward.”
The suspects are charged in New Zealand with similar offenses for which they are being prosecuted in the United States. Once New Zealand courts hear the charges, the United States will withdraw its extradition proceedings against the men. When exactly this will happen is unknown.
Megaupload founder clings to innocence
Kim Dotcom did not reach an agreement with the authorities, but responded on Twitter. “Congratulations to my old friends and partners for finding a solution to this case,” he wrote. “They can avoid the terrible American justice system. I’m happy for them and wish them the best.”
Dotcom now says he’s the last man left “in this fight.” “I will continue to fight, because unlike my co-defendants, I will not accept the injustice that has been done to us. If I have to go to jail for what Megaupload users have done on our site, many leaders of big tech companies are in the same boat as me.”