March 20, 2018 / 5:37 AM / a month ago

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom asks for Obama to appear in NZ damages case

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom said on Tuesday he has filed an application for former U.S. President Barack Obama to appear in court in relation to a damages claim over his defunct Megaupload streaming website while Obama visits New Zealand this week.

FILE PHOTO - German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom sits in a chair during a court hearing in Auckland, New Zealand, September 24, 2015. REUTERS/Nigel Marple/File Photo

German-born Dotcom is wanted by U.S. law enforcement authorities on copyright and money-laundering allegations related to Megaupload, which was shut down in 2012 while Obama was president, after an FBI-ordered raid on his Auckland mansion.

He was indicted the same year along with fellow Megaupload executives.

Dotcom, who has described the U.S. prosecution as “politically motivated”, and several other New Zealand-based defendants have denied the allegations. They also face potential extradition to the United States, which they have challenged.

“The Obama administration was under pressure from Hollywood to ‘get tough’ on copyright enforcement or lose Hollywood’s support,” Dotcom said in a statement.

“We were the perfect target - successful, high profile, and based outside the United States,” he said.

Obama’s media team has yet to reply to an emailed request for comment.

In a separate case, Dotcom filed claims for damages of roughly $10 billion in December against U.S. and New Zealand authorities “for the destruction of Megaupload” and the constraints on his liberty for more than seven years.

Dotcom said he filed an application in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, on Monday asking for Obama to give evidence in his damages claim during his visit to New Zealand.

“There is evidence that President Obama (as he then was) knew the real purpose behind the United States prosecution. That, and further evidence of political motivation in the United States and New Zealand, is set out in the affidavit I have filed in the High Court at Auckland,” Dotcom said.

The court has yet to respond to the application and its response could come after Obama’s departure.

Obama will be in New Zealand from Wednesday to Friday. He has meetings scheduled with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and former prime minister John Key before leaving for Sydney.

Dotcom, who has New Zealand residency, became well known as much for his lavish lifestyle as for his computer skills.

Dozens of black-clad police raided Dotcom’s mansion in 2012, breaking him out of a safe room and confiscating millions of dollars in cash and property, including a fleet of luxury cars, computers and art work.

Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Paul Tait

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