The founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload was released on bail Wednesday after a New Zealand judge decided Kim Dotcom lacked means to flee because his funds had been seized. “I am relieved to go home to see my family, my three little kids and my pregnant wife,” a smiling Dotcom told reporters outside court. “And I hope you understand that that is all I want to say right now.”
U.S. authorities allege Dotcom facilitated millions of illegal downloads through his company, costing movie makers and songwriters some half a billion dollars in lost copyright revenue. He was arrested Jan. 20. Dotcom was released without any monetary bail bond, which is standard in New Zealand’s district courts. Ministry of Justice officials declined to describe the conditions of his release, saying The Associated Press would need to apply to the judge for that information.
The U.S. is seeking extradition of Dotcom, 38, and three of his colleagues on racketeering charges. He confirmed he would be fighting U.S. extradition efforts.
Asked how he had been treated by the police after his high-profile arrest, Dotcom said, “Well, it felt a little bit like an audition to American Idol.”
New Zealand authorities have seized millions of dollars in investments and assets owned by Dotcom, including luxury cars and artworks. North Shore District Court Judge Nevin Dawson found that the German-born Dotcom no longer posed a significant flight risk because the court was unaware of any hidden money or assets that could help him flee the country. New Zealand courts turned down earlier bail requests, but Dawson said details about Dotcom’s assets had been unclear then.
“Mr. Dotcom’s submission that he has not concealed any assets or bank accounts has largely been borne out,” the judge found.
Dotcom was born Kim Schmitz but legally changed his name. He is a citizen of both Germany and Finland and was granted New Zealand residency in 2010. The Megaupload company is registered in Hong Kong. Dotcom’s colleagues were granted bail earlier.