A new video released Wednesday reveals just how aggressive New Zealand police forces were when they raided Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom’s home in January.
At 6:47 a.m., an enforcement helicopter soars over the green hills of Auckland and begins its descent onto Dotcom’s property. Inside the helicopter awaits an elite special tactics team. As they hit the ground, four members charge toward Dotcom’s front door, armed with weapons and ready to invade. Other ground forces are only seconds behind them, and the helicopter takes off.
Dotcom, alarmed at the sound of unknown persons breaking through his walls, pressed down a button that alerted security guards, friends, and family that an emergency was underway.
The police, still armed to the teeth with weapons, could not find Dotcom in the house. Only after 13 minutes of searching did they politely ask his bodyguard where he was, at which point the bodyguard complied. Dotcom had been hiding in a “safe room,” which he built for emergencies such as masked gunmen flying into his house without prior notice.
Unfortunately, the released video does not show Dotcom’s actual arrest. It merely provides the audio segment. According to Dotcom, members of the special tactics team entered the unlocked door to his safe room and found the suspect standing with his hands held high in the air.
“I thought, ‘I better wait for them to come to me,’” said Dotcom, “rather than me popping out of that secret door and, you know, maybe scaring someone who might shoot me.”
The frightening raid seems more suitable for an international terrorist ring than for a suspect of mere copyright infringement. And it didn’t stop when they found him in the safe room.
Dotcom testified early Tuesday that the officers punched and kicked him during the arrest despite his peaceful compliance with their demands.
“If someone had knocked on our door and said we have a document here with charges, I would have let them in,” said Dotcom. “I had no expectation that anything like this could ever occur.”
One member of New Zealand’s Armed Offenders Squad testified to the contrary, saying, “None of us punched him in the face.” Eventually another officer, according to Dotcom’s attorney, commented that the raid was “over the top.”
It is then no wonder the Crown was “seeking for all images and CCTV footage from the raids to be suppressed,” reported a local news outlet.
The entire raid in its rushed glory seems to be centered around on information fed to the New Zealand police force by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The agency allegedly warned local enforcement officers that Dotcom would try to destroy evidence and thus it was appropriate to surprise him with the visit. The agency was also present at the time of the raid.
Digital Journal explained last Wednesday that the warrants used in the raid were eventually deemed illegal. This week’s hearing will determine what will come of the property seized by the warrants’ assumed authority.
Dotcom’s extradition hearing is pushed back until March 2013, where a court will decide whether he is to be extradited to the U.S. to face various charges, including copyright infringement and money laundering.