AUCKLAND – A Judge in New Zealand has ruled Wednesday that Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is eligible to be extradited to the United States to face multiple charges that include copyright infringement and money laundering.
Lawyers for the German-born but Auckland-living entrepreneur, 39, said an appeal has been filed. Three of Dotcom’s colleagues were also said to be eligible for extradition.
The U.S. has charged the men with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering in relation to the now-defunct file-sharing website Megaupload. Dotcom founded the site.
Prosecutors allege the site permitted people to illegally download songs, television shows and movies at the cost of more than $500 million to movie studios and record companies.
The men could face decades in jail if found guilty. However, Wednesday’s ruling was only related to the issue of extradition, not guilt or innocence related to the charges.
The judge in the case ruled that the evidence established “a prima facie case to answer for all respondents on each of the counts.”
Dotcom maintains that he should not be held responsible for people who chose to use his site illegally.
“This is my weirdest (Christmas) ever,” Dotcom said on Twitter after the ruling. He also asked his Twitter followers to vote in a poll on whether he should be extradited.
Born as Kim Schmitz, he is known for his colorful lifestyle that has included a fondness for luxury yachts and lavish parties.
The father of five describes himself as an “Internet Freedom Fighter” on his Twitter page.