A judge in New Zealand ruled Wednesday that Kim Dotcom, the founder of the former file-sharing service Megaupload, can be extradited to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering.
Dotcom's lawyers said he will appeal the decision. New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams must ultimately approve the extradition request and said she will not give her decision until the appeals process is finished.
Wednesday's decision also included three others linked to Megaupload who have been charged in the United States.
The U.S. has been trying to prosecute Dotcom since 2012 when he was arrested in a dramatic raid on his mansion in Auckland. The Justice Department alleges Megaupload's business model encouraged people to put copyrighted movies, music and other materials on its site for others to download, and even paid users who they knew were contributing infringing content.
Dotcom has defended the company's practices, saying he operated a service that was simply a place people could store content and that he should not be held responsible for any infringement.
He remains active on Twitter, where after the ruling he posted a pledge to keep fighting the U.S. effort.
"Thank you for your support," he wrote. "The fight goes on. Enjoy the holidays. I'm happy to be with my kids. There are bigger things than copyright."
Earlier Wednesday, he said this was his weirdest Christmas ever, and posted an image referring to the U.S. as a bully.
If sent to the United States and convicted, Dotcom and the other defendants face decades in prison. The Justice Department says Megaupload cost copyright holders well more than $500 million and earned the men charged more than $175 million.
The company was based on Hong Kong, and had its domains seized as authorities conducted raids at two sites in the U.S. as well as in Canada and the Netherlands. Dotcom says he has never been to the United States, which highlights the way in which the case could have far-reaching implications when it comes to other companies and their actions online.
The Justice Department said it is prosecuting the case as part of an effort to crack down on the theft of intellectual property, particularly involving American companies.