The US Justice Department and the FBI shut down Megaupload in 2012, leveling piracy and copyright-infringement charges against Dotcom and other operators and seizing $42 million in assets in the process. These included luxury cars, a $10,000 watch, bank accounts in New Zealand and Hong Kong, a mansion and an Olaf Mueller photograph worth over $100,000.
An FBI statement at the time said Dotcom’s was "among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime."
The government has also said the "estimated harm" of Dotcom’s actions stood "well in excess of $500 million."
New Zealand’s High Court found in February that Dotcom and associates Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk were eligible for extradition to the US, which Dotcom has been fighting ever since. After the ruling Dotcom wrote on Twitter, "New Zealand Copyright Law (92b) makes it clear that an ISP can't be criminally liable for actions of their users. Unless you're Kim Dotcom?"
Dotcom is a German national with permanent residency in New Zealand.
He challenged the forfeiture to the US Supreme Court, saying the government is abusing the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine, which keeps fugitives from seeking relief from the government they are fleeing. Lawyers for Dotcom say he cannot rightly be considered a fugitive because he is fighting his extradition through New Zealand courts and has never set foot on US soil.
Quoting a 2004 federal appellate decision, the agencies noted, "Congress sought to bar the 'unseemly spectacle' of allowing an accused to absent himself deliberately in order to avoid prosecution in the United States while using United States courts to retrieve the proceeds of his crime."
If Dotcom is extradited, charged and found guilty, the self-described “internet freedom fighter” could face up to 20 years in prison.