NZ court finds Megaupload search warrants illegal
By Mantik Kusjanto
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Search warrants used when 70 New Zealand police raided the mansion of the suspected kingpin of an Internet piracy ring were illegal, a New Zealand court ruled on Thursday, dealing a blow to the FBI's highest profile global copyright theft case.
German national Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, was one of four men arrested in January as part of an investigation of his Megaupload.com website led by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Prosecutors say Dotcom was the ringleader of a group that had netted $175 million since 2005 by copying and distributing music, movies and other copyrighted content without authorization.
Dotcom's lawyers say the company simply offered online storage.
On Thursday, High Court Judge Justice Helen Winkelmann found the warrants used in the seizure of property from Dotcom's mansion near Auckland were illegal and that moves by the FBI to copy data from Dotcom's computer and take it offshore were also unlawful.
"The warrants did not adequately describe the offences to which they related," Winkelmann said in her ruling. "Indeed they fell well short of that. They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid."
In response, New Zealand's police said in a statement they were considering the judgment and were in discussions with Crown Law "to determine what further action might be required".
Police said no further comment would be made until that process was complete. Continued...