A New Zealand court order has called into question Kim Dotcom's extradition to the US.
Justice Helen Winkelmann has ruled that US authorities must release evidence proving Dotcom committed online piracy before his extradition case can begin. The ruling is being heralded as a victory by Dotcom's defence team.
Dotcom is trying to avoid extradition to the US where he is accused of being the kingpin of an internet piracy ring involving the website Megaupload.com.
"Without disclosure [Dotcom] will be significantly constrained in his ability to participate in the hearing, and the requesting state will have a significant advantage in terms of access to information," Justice Winkelmann said in her 51-page ruling.
A lower New Zealand court had originally ruled that the FBI didn't have to disclose all the evidence in the Dotcom piracy case. At the time, the court said that US authorities only had to produce enough evidence to prove Dotcom's actions would merit a case in the US.
Justice Winkelmann's decision overturns that ruling by arguing that, without a full disclosure of evidence, Dotcom's lawyers would be put at a severe disadvantage during the extradition hearing.
Winkelmann also points out in her ruling that not granting Dotcom a full disclosure would go against the New Zealand Bill of Rights.
In a tweet, Dotcom's lawyer marked the decision as a positive step towards justice.
The NZ High Court ruling today in— Ira Rothken (@rothken) August 16, 2012
@kimdotcom case citing Bill of Rights protects Kim's rights and the rights of all New Zealand residents
The Megaupload case has been mired in controversy for the past year. A New Zealand judge in the case was forced to step down following an interview where he called the US "the enemy".
A warrant that was granted to FBI agents so they could raid Dotcom's house was also ruled invalid in June. A New Zealand court said that the warrant did not sufficiently outline Dotcom's alleged crimes.
US authorities have taken their piracy hunt into high gear in the last few months. UK college student Richard O'Dwyer also currently faces potential extradition to the US for his involvement with link-sharing site TVshack.com.
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