By Juha Saarinen
Kim Dotcom's Mega-Lawsuit Could Make Him a Multi-Millionaire Again
Kim Dotcom. Photo: Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
File-sharing tycoon Kim Dotcom has a plan to become a multi-millionaire again: He's filed a seven-figure lawsuit against the New Zealand government over the spectacular 2012 assault on his mansion, and the electronic spying that preceded it.
Court filings released this week show Dotcom and associates have made good on a threat last year to sue police and the country's main spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, for the SWAT-style raid in which Dotcom and the others were arrested a year and a half ago.
The New Zealand government appealed a ruling last year that granted Dotcom the right to sue, but lost last March. Court documents filed in the High Court earlier this year, but not made public until this week, lay out Dotcom's case that the police were excessively invasive and aggressive in conducting the raid, and used NSA-like spy systems to place him under covert surveillance.
The case will show how the Five-Eyes spy cloud, X-Keyscore and PRISM were utilized in our copyright case, Dotcom says. Remember, I'm not a terrorist.
Dotcom's mansion was illegally raided on January 20, 2012 by heavily armed police officers from the elite Special Tactics Group and Armed Offenders Squad, arriving in helicopters and vans. Some of the officers wore uniforms; others were dressed in civilian clothes without any police insignia or similar identification.
The U.S. government is accusing Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload, of running a criminal conspiracy that made hundreds of millions of dollars by letting users share copyrighted files online. The Justice Department seized the company's many domain names, servers and assets at the time of the raid, and is seeking extradition of Dotcom from New Zealand to the United States for trial.
In the court documents, which were filed in April and May, and first released by the New Zealand Herald this week, the arrest raid is described as violent, with doors being broken down and holes knocked into walls, damaging the property.
Dotcom's then pregnant wife, Mona, was separated from her three other young children and kept away from them by force outside the mansion, according to the complaint. Police also allegedly forced Dotcom to the ground, leaving him with bruises and abrasions, despite his not resisting arrest.
Throughout the operation the Police paid little or no effective regard to the rights or needs of the occupants of the properties, and dealt with them in a highly aggressive, oppressive and intimidatory fashion, such as to cause significant unnecessary distress and anxiety and fear, the complaint claims.
Dotcom's legal advisers were also denied access to the property by the police, who seized cell phones and cut off landlines to prevent any communication with the outside world.
Citing GCSB documents, Dotcom's lawyers allege the spy agency illegally intercepted Dotcom, family members' and associates' communications since at least December 16, 2011.
GCSB was not, at the time, permitted to spy on legal permanent residents like Dotcom, but the New Zealand government has since legalized such surveillance.
Dotcom's lawyers also claim that the police seized an excessive amount of property from the mansion, including network switches and routers, power supplies and jewellery belonging to Mona Dotcom and Junelyn van der Kolk, another plaintiff.
Dotcom is accusing New Zealands top spymaster Ian Fletcher of acting unlawfully, along with the minister in charge who signed off on the action, Bill English.
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