I'm trying to wrap my head around the MegaUpload / Kim Dotcom case for quite a while now. On twitter he claims:

I never lived there

I never traveled there

I had no company there

But all I worked for now belongs to the U.S.

Now I came across a news item on the German portal Spiegel Online that says Kim Dotcom is about to be handed over to the U.S. authorities by a N.Z. court.

Now I am wondering: He never had any company in the U.S., also he claims to never having been or lived there. Is it even possible to be prosecuted unter U.S. law? It sounds a bit weird to me. Also, is it possible to get extradicted to a country you never have been to?

Personally, to me the scary part is: Do I need to make sure I do not break any laws in any country of the world in the future, not only in the country I live? Or is this a difficult question to answer because the accusations against him are related to internet business?

2 Answers 2


I think @Dale M's answer is dangerously naive ("one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" is not just a cheesy quote - its the reality right now in many places around the world such as Turkey, Ukraine, Syria etc) as well as factually wrong: as of this writing the Kim Dotcom extradition case is still being debated in NZ courts.

Now, IANAL, I don't even play one on TV, but I think this question warrants a more in depth discussion that what Dale M offers.

I think we need to look at what is an extradition treaty. I'm not sure what treaty is signed between US and NZ, but for reference to the general question by the OP, I'll look at the US-Israel extradition treaty which you can find a copy of here (I'm currently an Israeli citizen, where we have laws much different than in US, so the subject matter is near and dear to my heart). Also, this treaty is very simple to read and understand.

The US-Israel extradition treaty basically says: if you were either accused of or convicted of a crime of a kind listed specifically in the treaty, performed while you were in one country and currently residing in the other, the first country can ask that you be extradited and the residency country has to oblige. Additionally, if you have been accused of or convicted of a crime performed while not residing in the country where you are accused or have been convicted, then the residence country may only grant the extradition request if the offense is also a crime under domestic law.

The rest of the treaty is mostly about technicalities of what does it mean to be accused, how a request has to be submitted and what happens if there are multiple crimes committed in both countries.

So, and assuming the US-NZ treaty is similar to the US-Israel treaty, then the Kim Dotcom extradition hearing is basically about establishing whether the crimes he is being accused of by the US government are indeed actions over which he would have also faced criminal proceeding in New Zealand. And I think that has not been proven at all. Specifically, the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment to NZ copyright law, and more specifically its section 92A which introduced liability of Internet service providers, was repealed recently. And even if it was not, or Kim Dotcom's Mega Upload service was liable under another section, the extension of that liability to the owners person is very rare outside US courts and highly controversial.

  • Me neither - I guess some people... Thanks for trying to correct that though :-)
    – Guss
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 10:56


Kim Dotcom is alleged to have committed a crime against US law. The US requested his arrest by NZ authorities with whom they have an extradition treaty. He has now had his extradition hearing and the NZ court is satisfied that, under NZ law, he should be extradited to face those charges.

You do not have to be a citizen of a country to offend its laws. You do not have to be located within its borders.

For example, if you rob a US bank over the internet you are liable to prosecution in the US no matter where you are in the world. Similarly, if you plot a terrorist attack.

  • 1
    I don't think that the way you describe extradition laws makes any sense - if something I've done is lawful in my country of residence, and unlawful in a country my country has extradition agreement with, can I be extradited? I think that's the question here - as it is unclear whether Kim Dotcom has broken NZ law. Here's a simpler example - under the US DMCA, making available software who's primary purpose is copyright infringement is a crime, but not so in most other countries. Supposed I reside in such a country and allow people to download such software from me - will I be extradited?
    – Guss
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 6:54
  • @Guss Will you be extradited? Who knows. Can you be extradited? Certainly.
    – Dale M
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 21:18
  • I don't think so - one of the services I'm supposed to get from my country, as a law abiding citizen, is protection from other country governments. Any government can lob a suit at me, and I expect my country to protect me, as long as I'm not breaking any local laws. That's the whole point of limited jurisdiction. An extradition treaty does not mean that my country's citizens are now subject to US law.
    – Guss
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 7:48
  • @Guss the US can charge you with a crime, they can seek your extradition from any country where you are that they have an extradition treaty with. That country (which may or may not be your country of citizenship), will determine if you should be extradited. Most extradition treaties require that the crime with which you are charged would also be a crime locally if perpetrated against that country.
    – Dale M
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 8:02
  • These are all good points, which should have been raised in your answer, @Dale M. I've posted an answer of my own with a more complete discussion that IMHO was missing from your answer.
    – Guss
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 9:24

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