23 Dec 2015

Long journey to Dotcom verdict

8:20 pm on 23 December 2015

Four years, four defendants, a raid, a political party and, now, an extradition verdict.

Take a look back at major political and legal events since the start of the investigation into Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants over Megaupload.

Kim Dotcom speaks to media after his "Moment of Truth" event at Auckland's Town Hall.

Kim Dotcom speaks to media after his 'Moment of Truth' event at Auckland's Town Hall on 15 September 2015. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

September 2011

New Zealand police begin an investigation into Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom after receiving a request for assistance from the FBI. They are told Mr Dotcom could be holding a birthday party on 21 January, and this might be an opportune time to raid his house.

14 December 2011

A planning meeting is held, attended by representatives from the police, Crown Law, the Ministry of Justice, the police's legal section and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

16 December 2011

The GCSB begins spying on Mr Dotcom at the request of the police. They are asked to provide intelligence about where Mr Dotcom's birthday party is going to take place, which targets will be attending the party, and anything that may assist in mitigating risks - such as security measures at the mansion or access to/possession of firearms.

18 January 2012

A provisional arrest warrant is issued by Judge David McNaughton at the North Shore District Court.

20 January 2012

At 7.50am, as part of global raids, regular police officers and Special Tactics Group (STG) members raid Mr Dotcom's mansion. Those arrested in New Zealand are: Mr Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, and Finn Batato. The charges on the US indictment in relation to the now-defunct website Megaupload are:

Megaupload executives Mathias Ortmann (L) and Bram van der Kolk (R)

Former Megaupload executives Mathias Ortmann, left, and Bram van der Kolk during the four men's extradition hearing in Auckland on 24 September 2015. Photo: AFP

Ex-Megaupload executive Finn Batato and his wife Anastasia leave court for lunch in Auckland on 21 September 2015.

Finn Batato and his wife Anastasia leave court for lunch on 21 September 2015. Photo: AFP

23 January 2012

The four men appear in the North Shore District Court before Judge McNaughton to seek bail.

25 January 2012

Judge McNaughton denies Mr Dotcom bail, saying there's a "real and significant risk" he will flee the country.

3 February 2012

Mr Dotcom appeals the bail ruling at the Auckland High Court, but Justice Asher also denies bail.

22 February 2012

Judge Nevin Dawson (in the North Shore District Court) overturns the two earlier decisions, and grants Mr Dotcom bail.

2 March 2012

American authorities formally lodge papers in the North Shore District Court, requesting the extradition of Mr Dotcom and the three other men.

21 March 2012

Mr Dotcom is granted up to $60,000 a month to be released from frozen assets: $300,000 from his Rabobank account in instalments of $40,000 a month (to pay for staff), plus $20,000 a month (for living costs) to be derived from interest on New Zealand government bonds.

Kim Dotcom looks as he is granted bail in the North Shore District Court in Auckland on 22 February 2012.

Kim Dotcom is granted bail in the North Shore District Court on 22 February 2012. Photo: AFP

22-23 May 2012

At a hearing in the High Court in Auckland, Mr Dotcom's lawyers seek a judicial review of the raid on their client's home, arguing it was illegal - the warrant used was too broad and deficient. During this hearing, it is revealed the FBI has already taken copied material back to the US, without permission. Lawyer Paul Davison says material was supposed to stay in New Zealand under the order of the Solicitor-General. Justice Winkelmann reserves her decision.

6 June 2012

A judicial review into the raid is held in the High Court in Auckland. Mr Dotcom's lawyers argue the search and seizure was illegal, and the Crown and the FBI unlawfully couriered seven copies of material to the US in breach of the Solicitor-General's ruling, which stated all evidence must stay in the custody of the police. The Crown argues it was not in breach of the ruling, as only copies were couriered - not originals. Justice Winkelmann reserves judgement.

28 June 2012

Justice Winkelmann releases her ruling, which finds that the warrants used to seize material were too broad, did not describe the offences properly, and were therefore unlawful. It also finds that it was unlawful for the FBI and Crown to send cloned material to the US.

7-9 August 2012

A hearing is held in the High Court in Auckland. Mr Dotcom, police (including Detective Inspector Grant Wormald) and STG officers give evidence on the details of the lead-up to the raid, including the day itself.

Mr Dotcom says he was kicked and punched by officers. Officers deny this but admit they did have to stand on his hands, and his fingers bled.

Mr Dotcom's lawyers question STG officers about the need for helicopters and armed police, and accuse the police of being heavy-handed. Police footage of the raid is shown.

Police claim Mr Dotcom is a real threat with a history of violence, and they say there is a record of firearms being stored at his mansion.

While Mr Wormald is on the stand, he is questioned about who was present in the room at a 14 December 2011 planning meeting. He will not reveal who one of the parties was, but it is later revealed that it was the GCSB.

A helicopter parked outside the mansion of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom before the launch of his new website at a press conference in Auckland on January 20, 2013.

A helicopter parked outside Mr Dotcom's mansion in Coatesville before the launch of his new website Mega on 20 January 2013. Photo: AFP

16 August 2012

Acting Prime Minister Bill English signs a ministerial certificate directing no disclosure of GCSB information.

September 2012

Prime Minister John Key says the GCSB's surveillance of Mr Dotcom was illegal, as Mr Dotcom was a New Zealand resident and the GCSB is not supposed to spy on its citizens or residents. Mr Key refers the matter to Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Paul Neazor.

September 2012

The Inspector-General finds the GCSB spying illegal, as it relied on incorrect police information about Mr Dotcom's residency status and it did not check further.

1 October 2012

A review is ordered into the GCSB, and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Rebecca Kitteridge is appointed to oversee it.

11 October 2012

The Labour Party claims Mr Key discussed Mr Dotcom's case while at the GCSB for a briefing in February 2012. Mr Key maintains the first he heard of Mr Dotcom was when he learned of the GCSB's illegal surveillance of him.

20 January 2013

Mr Dotcom launches a new business, Mega.co.nz, with a party at his mansion including a reconstruction of the raid, dancers, DJs and an appearance by New Zealand musician Tiki Taane. It coincides with the anniversary of the raid.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (2nd R) poseswith actors dessed as police after the launch of his new website at a press conference held inside his home in Auckland on January 20, 2013.

Mr Dotcom poses with actors dressed as police officers after the launch of his new website at a news conference at his home on 20 January 2013. Photo: AFP

7 March 2013

A Court of Appeal judgment upholds a decision in the High Court that Mr Dotcom can sue the GCSB for damages.

March 2013

Mr Key admits new GCSB head Ian Fletcher (appointed February 2012) is an old family friend, whom he shoulder-tapped for the role. State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie maintains the appointment process was rigourous.

April 2013

Ms Kitteridge's report is leaked ahead of its planned release, and says the GCSB may have illegally spied on 88 people in New Zealand during 56 operations since 2003.

Mr Key signals a law change to allow GCSB to spy on New Zealanders. The Auditor-General, meanwhile, rules out an inquiry into the appointment of Mr Fletcher.

30 April 2013

Mr Dotcom and others lodge a claim for about $5 million in compensation against the police and the GCSB in the High Court in Auckland.

May 2013

Legislation is introduced to widen the GCSB's powers so it can spy on New Zealanders to prevent cyber attacks, and on behalf of other agencies like the police, Defence Force and Security Intelligence Service (SIS). Opposition parties and submitters to the bill say it widens powers too much and will allow the collection of metadata, which shows patterns of communication.

Kim Dotcom appears in front of a committee including Prime Minister John Key as lawmakers examine a controversial intelligence agency proposal in Wellington on 3 July 2013.

Mr Dotcom appears in front of a select committee including Prime Minister John Key as lawmakers examine the intelligence agency proposal on 3 July 2013. Photo: AFP

31 May 2013

Justice Winkelmann rules the police must sort through seized property and return any items that were not relevant to the case.

June 2013

After Edward Snowden blows the whistle on the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US, Prime Minister John Key tells Parliament he has sought an assurance from the GCSB that it is acting in accordance with New Zealand law and that it does not ask agencies in other countries to circumvent that law.

August 2013

The GCSB bill passes with the vote of United Future MP Peter Dunne. Mr Key says New Zealanders will not be subject to widespread spying.

29 August 2013

Police say no criminal charges will be laid against anyone who spied on Mr Dotcom.

October 2013

Mr Key says he is confident the GCSB has not been part of eavesdropping on foreign leaders and that he has not been spied upon by the US.

26 November 2013

The Green Party releases a police summary of the police investigation into whether Mr Dotcom was spied on illegally, which reveals three GCSB agents refused to be interviewed during the investigation.

27 November 2013

At a preliminary hearing for the compensation claim, Mr Dotcom's legal team tells the High Court it has never been given a copy of the police investigation summary, and questions what other evidence the Crown has not disclosed. The lawyers threaten to summon government spies to give evidence in a closed court session.

Mt Eden Prison

Mt Eden Prison Photo: RNZ

January 2014

Prison operator Serco apologises to Mr Dotcom for the treatment he received when he first arrived at Mt Eden Prison after the raids.

16 January 2014

Mr Dotcom cancels an event - about to be held on the second anniversary of the raids - to launch his new Internet Party, after being warned it could fall foul of electoral law.

19 February 2014

The Court of Appeal rules the search warrants used to raid Mr Dotcom's house were lawful. However, the judges say the decision to send copies of seized material to US authorities breached court orders.

21 March 2014

The Supreme Court refuses to allow Mr Dotcom access to more FBI documents about his case, saying the Extradition Act does not require copies of all documents related to the case. His legal team only has a 109-page summary of the evidence against him.

27 March 2014

Mr Dotcom launches the Internet Party at a low-key event, without any confirmed candidates or formal registration.

The Internet Party's Kim Dotcom, left, with Hone Harawira and Laila Harre.

Mr Dotcom, left, with Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and Internet Party leader Laila Harre in May 2014. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

April 2014

Six Hollywood studios launch a civil claim against Mr Dotcom and now-defunct Megaupload.

May 2014

Prime Minister John Key repeats assurances there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders or collection of their metadata, and none of New Zealand's partners have been used to circumvent the law.

12 May 2014

Mr Dotcom's lawyers claim the SIS expedited his permanent residency application in New Zealand to make it easier for the FBI to extradite him.

24 May 2014

The courts lift suppression on the 'record of case', a 200-page document [ http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/usao-edva/legacy/2013/12/20/Mega%20Evidence.pdf] summarising the evidence the US plans to use in the extradition hearing.

27 May 2014

The Mana Party agrees to form an alliance with the Internet Party to contest the general election. Two days later, veteran politician and activist Laila Harre is confirmed as the Internet Party leader.

June 2014

A judge finds ACT MP John Banks guilty of filing a false electoral return, following crucial evidence from Mr Dotcom that he signed off two $25,000 donations at a lunch attended by Mr Banks. He is later acquitted after it is revealed the Crown did not put forward a memorandum in which Mr Dotcom contradicted his own version of events.

July 2014

Crown lawyers have racked up 20,000 hours on the Dotcom case since January 2012.

Internet party leader Laila Harre addresses the crowd at the Auckland Town Hall.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange addresses Mr Dotcom's pre-election 'Moment of Truth' event via video conference in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

15 September 2014

At an event billed as the 'Moment of Truth', US lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald claims Mr Key has misled the New Zealand public and that New Zealanders have been the target of mass surveillance by the GCSB and international spy agencies. Mr Key denies this, saying ground work was done on it, but it never went ahead. He says he will reveal evidence on this to protect his reputation.

Mr Dotcom also promises to reveal what Mr Key knew about him, and when, at the event, but fails to produce any evidence on the night. An apparent email from the chairman and chief executive of Warner Bros, suggesting Mr Key had been involved in a plan to grant Mr Dotcom residency so he could then be extradited to the US, is dismissed as a hoax.

September 21, 2014

After National is elected to lead a third-term government, Mr Dotcom says his brand was "poison" for the Internet-Mana alliance, which gained just 1 percent of the party vote, with no seats in Parliament.

October 2014

It is revealed Mr Dotcom did not disclose a dangerous driving conviction when he applied for permanent residency, an omission that could be grounds for deportation. Immigration New Zealand launches a review of his residency status, which is ongoing as of November 2015.

November 2014

Mr Dotcom's long-serving lawyers, Paul Davison and Willy Akel, quit the case. Mr Dotcom claims he is broke, and it is later revealed Mr Davison and Mr Akel are owed $2.5 million in unpaid legal fees. Mr Dotcom dodges a Crown attempt to remand him in custody again, but a court imposes strict new bail conditions that ban him from hiring boats or helicopters.

Kim Dotcom in the Auckland District Court.

Mr Dotcom speaks at his bail hearing in November 2014. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

December 2014

The Supreme Court rules the search warrants used to raid the Dotcom mansion in 2012 were legal.

February 2015

Megaupload programmer Andrus Nomm is jailed in the US after pleading guilty to copyright infringement charges.

26 February 2015

Mr Dotcom pleads with a court to release more of his frozen funds so he can pay his rent and buy groceries.

August 2015

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) rules there is no evidence a detective committed perjury during Mr Dotcom's court action.

14 September 2015

The Court of Appeal dismisses a last-ditch bid by Mr Dotcom to delay the extradition hearing, saying Mr Dotcom's application for a stay in proceedings can instead be heard on the first day of the extradition hearing.

17 September 2015

Mr Dotcom's legal team releases the affadavit of Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, who says the extradition case lacks merit and should have been thrown out before it was even filed.

Kim Dotcom arrives at court for his extradition hearing

Kim Dotcom arrives at the court for a preliminary hearing on Monday 21 September. Photo: RNZ/Kim Baker Wilson

21 September 2015

The extradition hearing for Mr Dotcom and his three co-accused - Mr van der Kolk, Mr Ortmann and Mr Batato - begins in Auckland.

24 November 2015

After a marathon 10-week trial, the extradition hearing wraps up in Auckland.

The Crown lawyer acting on behalf of the US, Christine Gordon, tells the court the men were knowingly obtaining money by infringing copyrights.

She repeats conversations between the co-accused, in which they said most of their income did not come from legitimate users of Megaupload.

The defence lawyers have attacked the Crown's case throughout the trial on two fronts: that the charges in the US indictment are not extraditable offences; and that, even if they were, the summary of evidence that prosecutors presented was cherry-picked and unreliable.

Christine Gordon acting for the US giving a submission to Judge Nevin Dawson in the extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom and co-accused.

Ms Gordon makes a submission to Judge Dawson during the extradition hearing in September 2015. Photo: RNZ/Kim Baker Wilson

23 December 2015

Judge Dawson rules that Dotcom and his three co-accused are eligible for extradition to the US to stand trial on criminal charges. Dotcom and his lawyers vow to appeal the charges.

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