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German millionaire freed on bail in New Zealand on U.S. piracy charges

02-22-2012 14:14 BJT

WELLINGTON, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The German millionaire facing charges in the United States of Internet piracy was freed on bail Wednesday after more than a month behind bars in New Zealand.

Kim Dotcom, 38, who has residency in New Zealand, was granted bail at Auckland's North Shore District Court after his third application, Radio New Zealand reported.

Dotcom, the founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload.com, and three other men were arrested at his mansion near Auckland on Jan. 20 after the U.S. Justice Department and FBI sought his extradition on charges connected to Internet piracy, racketeering and money-laundering.

Dotcom was freed to return to his house on the northern outskirts of Auckland to be with his pregnant wife and three children, according to the report.

Leaving the court, he told media that he was relieved to be going home.

Two previous court decisions found that Dotcom posed a serious flight risk, but the judge said on Wednesday that the risk was not significant enough to keep Dotcom in jail pending an extradition hearing.

The judge said Dotcom would not be able to avoid defending the charges, even if he managed to flee to Germany.

Moves are under way to extradite all four accused to the United States, but no decision is likely for six months, according to Radio New Zealand.

At court on Wednesday, Dotcom and his co-accused had a date for their extradition hearing set, with August the first available time.

The U.S. authorities allege Megaupload has profited by at least 175 million U.S. dollars and attempted to seize 60 million U.S. dollars more from the bank accounts.

The authorities have to file extradition papers before March 5.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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