On the same day that the Megaupload tycoon starred in “MegaChristmas” in Auckland, taking the role of “Santa Dotcom,” a New Zealand TV channel revealedthat the NZ government has spent millions of tax dollars going after him, making it likely one of the most expensive cases in the country’s history.
According to documents released to One News under the Official Information Act (analogous to the United States’ Freedom of Information Act), “up to five crown lawyers have spent more than 6,000 hours working on the case. Crown law will not say how much that has cost, but private firms charge up to NZ$600 (US$504) an hour, which would bring the bill to more than NZ$3 million (US$2.5 million).”
Since then, Dotcom has fought tooth and nail against his extradition to the United States, and revealed that the NZ justice system screwed up the search warrant and the raid itself. Most recently, the government has allowed Dotcom access to classified intelligence.
UPDATE: Ira Rothken, Kim Dotcom’s head global counsel, e-mailed Ars to say: “The Crown lawyers acting on behalf of the US have found themselves in the perfect storm of a bad case and a bad legal theory combined with illegal government conduct and that leads to high legal expenses. The government’s serial appeals, stonewalling evidence disclosure, illegal search and seizures, illegal data transfer, and illegal spying doesn’t come cheap. Since the Government’s only advantage in this case is money and resources they are trying to win a war of attrition but I hope they understand by now that Kim Dotcom and our legal team find this defense worthy and will work hard to achieve justice.”
Legal issues aside, during the yuletide performance, Dotcom pokes fun at his own story.
“I was in my mansion playing Call of Duty, and suddenly I heard someone coming down the chimney,” Dotcom reportedly says during the play. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God! Not another raid! Who are you trying to impress this time, [NZ PM] John Key? Steven Spielberg?’”
“MegaChristmas” runs December 12-22 at the Basement Theatre in Auckland.