Megaupload Search Warrants Deemed Invalid, Police Conduct Questioned By NZ High Court

Brad Chacos

That high profile, open-and-shut international case the U.S. government has against Megaupload is starting to look like it might not be quite so open-and-shut after all. Today, New Zealand Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann found that the warrants used to raid Kim Dotcom's mansion were insufficient and invalid -- and she says that the Megaupload server data taken by the FBI was taken illegally.

TorrentFreak reports that the New Zealand Attorney General's office claimed that the transfer to the FBI was legal, as it only involved data rather than the physical servers themselves, which stayed in the AG's posession. (Wait! Isn't the whole Megaupload case about the legality of intangible data?) Winkelmann rejected that argument and instructed the NZ AG's office to return all cloned drives and other copies of the Megaupload data, including any provided to the U.S.

Judge Winkelmann also said the search warrants issued for the raid were too vague and non-descriptive, failing to detail the crimes Kim Dotcom and crew were accused of. That resulted in the seizure of pretty much everything in the house. Additionally, the judge thinks the raid may amount to illegal trespassing and illegal search-and-seizure by the NZ police.

A senior, independent NZ High Court lawyer is now tasked with reviewing the evidence collected during the raid. Whatever the lawyer finds irrelevant to the charges will be returned to Kim Dotcom and not passed along to the U.S. government for review.

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