On 20 January, New Zealand police showed up in style at the mansion of flamboyant Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, swarming over the property and bringing along two police helicopters. They cut their way through locks and into the home’s
panic room, where Dotcom was hiding in apparent fear of a kidnapping or robbery. They seized 18 luxury vehicles. They secured NZ$11 million in cash from bank accounts. And they grabbed a whopping 150TB of data from Dotcom’s many digital devices.
It was definitely not as simple as knocking at the front door, said Detective Inspector Grant Wormald in a police press release at the time.
It was also totally illegal. That’s the ruling of New Zealand High Court judge Helen Winkelmann, who today ripped the “invalid” warrant and the subsequent search and seizure in a 56-page decision.
The ruling marks a major win for the Kim Dotcom defence, which is trying to prevent their client from being extradited to the US on a host of copyright and money laundering charges. Still, it’s not yet clear if Dotcom will actually get his data back; the FBI already flew to New Zealand, imaged much of the data in March, and FedExed it back to the US — via Ars Technica