Feds Shut Down Megaupload, Arrest Executives
Megaupload, the popular file-sharing site, was shuttered Thursday and its executives indicted by the Justice Department in what the authorities said was ‘among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.’
Seven individuals connected to the Hong Kong-based site were indicted on a variety of charges, including criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Four of the members of what the authorities called a five-year ‘racketeering conspiracy’ were arrested Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand, the authorities said.
One of those arrested was Kim Schmitz, aka Kim Dotcom, Megaupload’s founder. His attorney, Ira Rothken of California, said neither he nor his 37-year-old client, who resides in Hong Kong and New Zealand, was given the opportunity to surrender. Schmitz was arrested without notice, he said.
‘We’re looking into what’s going on,’ Rothken said in a telephone interview.
Visitors to the Megaupload site, which gets about 50 million hits daily and claims 4 percent of all internet traffic, were greeted with a message from the Justice Department. ‘This domain name associated with the website megaupload.com has been seized pursuant to an order issued by a U.S. District Court.’
Swizz Baetz, Megaupload’s chief executive, was not implicated in the indictment but is embroiled in a legal spat with Universal Music over a Megaupload promotional video.