Kim Dotcom Officially Launches Internet Party in New Zealand
Kim Dotcom, whose site MegaUpload was shut down by U.S. authorities in 2012, has formally launched a political party in New Zealand, the Internet Party.
The notorious Internet entrepreneur told media at a launch press conference that the Internet Party was a "movement for the freedom of the Internet and technology, for privacy and political reform."
New Zealand has a general election in September. Dotcom had earlier this year said he plans to launch a party, with the expected name at the time having been the Megaparty.
Although Dotcom holds New Zealand residency, he will be unable to run in the country's election himself because he remains a German national.
Dotcom won't be the first Internet celebrity to try his hand at Australian politics. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange set up a party, which fielded candidates in Australia's 2013 elections but received just 0.66 percent of the vote.
Dotcom is currently fighting extradition to the U.S. over charges of copyright infringement on a "massive scale." Dotcom is charged with racketeering and money laundering and has waged a public battle against the U.S. government's efforts to extradite him.
To enter parliament, the Internet Party must win an electoral seat or secure 5 percent of the vote. Reports in New Zealand media said that current members of parliament may be willing to join the party.
On its website, the party said that it would "give you faster, cheaper Internet, create high-tech jobs, protect your privacy and safeguard our independence."
It also promised to introduce "a New Zealand-sponsored digital currency that is safe, secure and encrypted."
Dotcom's party launch made waves across the local media landscape as newspapers in New Zealand and beyond reported claims that his ownership of a rare copy of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf was evidence of Nazi sympathies.
Dotcom began the party launch press conference from his home in New Zealand by refuting claims that include allegations he used to display a Nazi flag in his basement.
"It's a smear campaign to try and derail what we are trying to achieve today with the launch of the Internet Party, and I can completely deny any such allegation and tell you today that these are lies and will not go any further and address these things any further in detail ... I want to focus today on the launch of the Internet Party," Dotcom was quoted as saying by local media.
Dotcom was arrested at his mansion near Auckland, New Zealand, in Jan. 2012, and MegaUpload was shut down and his assets frozen. But later scrutiny of the raid led to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to apologize to Dotcom for what were described as "basic errors" by intelligence services in collecting information on behalf of the U.S.
Dotcom stands accused by U.S. authorities of earning more than $175 million by facilitating the distribution of pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content. Dotcom denies any wrongdoing.
In January 2013, a year after the closure of MegaUpload, he set up Mega, which also allows users to host and share large files on the Internet. Earlier this year he stepped away from the business to focus on a music service and his political ambitions.
Earlier this week, Dotcom announced plans to list his new file-sharing firm on the New Zealand stock market.