RadioNZ reports today that the FBI has taken some of Kim Dotcoms hardware containing crucial data outside of New Zealand without consulting or notifying the courts. Kim Dotcom's lawyer said today that an order was in place to ensure the hardware and data stays in New Zealand, and he thought it was still in effect.
According to the report, a Crown lawyer today confirmed in court that some of the seized goods have already been shipped back to the US by the FBI. It appears the Crown intentionally handed the goods over as they were not in the FBI's hands before now. Kim Dotcom, who was in the public gallery, wiped away tears and walked out of court.
Kim Dotcom had been requesting the court return him a copy of the data so that he is able to construct a defense, however the courts have not been able to reach a decision yet. Kim also requested that a copy of the personal data on the devices, such as baby photos be given to him, but so far the courts have denied his request.
Dotcom had actually offered a deal to the court, in which he would surrender passwords and encryption keys in return for a copy of the data to build his defense. Justice Winkelmann urged the parties to consider the offer, but lawyers for both sides said they could not come to an agreement on how the access would actually work.
The Crown said that they thought Kim Dotcom's lawyers had been notified the equipment had been removed. Apparently, they will file proof of this late next week.
The news that the FBI has taken the hardware comes amidst a two day review of whether or not the warrant used by police to raid Kim Dotcom's house was too widely worded and breached his privacy.
Dotcom's lawyer in the US said that "the New Zealand judicial system should stand up to American agencies" and that "he is concerned that the FBI will take all the evidence to the US and that will affect his client's extradition hearing."
If the FBI really has taken the data back to the US, as well as some of Dotcom's hardware, it will be extremely hard for him to build a compelling defense without any evidence to support himself. Despite this, the FBI may have gotten themselves into trouble and could have issues using evidence from Dotcom's data if they have indeed breached a order not to remove the hardware from New Zealand.
The bail hearing for Dotcom is not until August, when it will be decided if he will be extradited to the US to face charges of piracy.