A New Zealand judge has declared that the raids by the U.S. government on Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, which saw the seizure of massive amounts of data and personal property, were illegal.
According to a 56-page decision obtained the Hollywood Reporter, Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled that the warrants used were insufficiently detailed, writing that a legal warrant should define “the extent of the authority to search and seize” and inform “the person or persons searching of the parameters of the Police’s authority to search and seize goods.”
Dotcom’s defense argued that he did not know why police showed up at his house in January and and was never informed that the U.S. government was launching proceedings against him.
“The failure to refer to the laws of the United States on the face of the warrants, would no doubt have caused confusion to the subjects of the searches,” Winkelmann wrote.
Judge Winkelmann also noted the warrants’ vague language, which described Dotcom’s crime as simply “breach of copyright,” and took issue with clones of Dotcom’s hard drives that were shipped offshore without his consent or direct orders from the Solicitor-General to the Comissioner of Police. Winkelmann ordered the return of seized items that were taken out of the Zealand and barred the remainder of Dotcom’s property from leaving the country.
While the ruling favors Dotcom in his long, and often bizarre, legal battle, the Megaupload founder will still sit trial in August to hear whether or not he will be extradited to the United States. If found guilty in the U.S., Dotcom could face up to 20 years in prison.
Back in April, Dotcom was awarded back approximately $750,000 after a different New Zealand court ruled that authorities had obtained the wrong search warrant before the raid.