Granting Dotcom access to documents would leave NZ exposed

Published: Tue 30 Jul 2013 05:52 PM
Granting Dotcom extradition documents will leave NZ standing alone, Solicitor-General says
By Paul McBeth
July 30 (BusinessDesk) - Granting internet tycoon Kim Dotcom access to documents supporting his extradition to the US would leave New Zealand as an outlier, as no other country has ever ordered that kind of disclosure, according to the Solicitor-General.
Acting ultimately on behalf of the US Federal government, Solicitor-General Mike Heron told a full Supreme Court bench no other appellant court across common law has upheld a disclosure request in the pre-trial stages, and doing so would leave New Zealand as an outlier in the international community.
“Were it to be made in this court, we would stand alone,” Heron said. “This order, is in effect, an order against a foreign state.”
Heron said the issue had been covered extensively over the past two decades and has consistently been upheld at the highest levels.
The US Federal government is seeking to extradite Dotcom and his co-accused Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk to face charges of conspiracy to operate websites used to illegally distribute copyrighted content.
The District and High Courts upheld their request for a trimmed down disclosure, though that was overturned in the Court of Appeal earlier this year.
Heron told Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias and Justices John McGrath, William Young, Susan Glazebrook and Terence Arnold the treaty governing extraditions between New Zealand and the US was to facilitate efficiency, and extra disclosure undermined that.
New Zealand courts aren’t empowered to make orders against foreign sovereign states, and if judges have any qualms about the evidence put forward, they can strike it out, make a request for more, or turn down the application, Heron said.
Earlier in the hearing, Dotcom’s counsel Paul Davison QC, told the court the extradition treaty didn’t prevent the courts from making disclosure orders, saying the legislature had kept a regulation-making ability for that very issue.
Davison said the summary of evidence would be more burdensome and onerous than handing over much of the full documentation, which in digital form was available simply by pushing a button.
Heron said Dotcom’s team had oversimplified the evidence put forward by the US government, which he said was based on undercover activity and actual emails.
“This is massive copyright and other fraud alleged,” Heron said.
The judges reserved their decision at the end of the one-day hearing.
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