US closes Megaupload site as Dotcom don arrested in New Zealand
The US authorities have shut down the Megaupload website over claims it is involved in one of the largest ever cases of copyright theft. The internet guru behind the site, Kim Dotcom, was arrested by police on Friday in New Zealand and millions of dollars of assets seized including a 1959 pink Cadillac.
The closure sparked a retaliatory attack by the ‘Anonymous’ hacktivist group on the FBI and US Justice Department websites. Several music and recording industry websites were also targeted.
The Hong Kong-based Megaupload site is popular with Hollywood celebrities and has been endorsed by music stars such as Kanye West and Alicia Keys.
The shut down comes just days after Wikipedia, Google and other websites staged a protest against congressional legislation intended to crack-down on online piracy.
The US authorities accused the website, which allows the downloading of large files, of generating more than 175 million dollars in criminal proceeds and causing more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners.
The US is seeking the extradition of Kim Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, a 37-year-old German citizen with New Zealand and Hong Kong residency and three other arrested men.
They could face maximum prison sentences of 20 years while five years is the maximum punishment for the copyright infringement charges.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed the shut down of the site saying its operators were reaping “criminal profits from the illegal distribution of copyrighted works."