BUSINESS

Estonian man indicted in Megaupload case 1st to face charges in US

02/09/2015 05:51 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT
MCLEAN, Va. - An Estonian man was brought to the U.S. to face charges in what federal prosecutors say was a massive copyright-piracy scheme run through the now-defunct website Megaupload.

Prosecutors say the website was cleverly designed to deliberately encourage piracy of movies, TV shows and music by giving users cash incentives to upload pirated content.

U.S. District Court records indicate that Andrus Nomm was arrested Monday in Alexandria, Virginia, where he is one of seven men indicted three years ago in the Megaupload case. He was initially arrested in the Netherlands in 2012 and had been fighting extradition.

A transfer to the U.S. under these circumstances can sometimes indicate that a plea deal has been struck, but there was no indication of that in court records. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office had no immediate comment.

Nomm is the first of the seven to be brought to the U.S. to face charges. Megaupload's founder, Kim Dotcom, has been fighting extradition from New Zealand since 2012, publically criticizing the case against him and mocking prosecutors as Hollywood lackeys for shutting down his site under pressure from the film industry. The German-born Dotcom — who had his name changed from Kim Schmitz — and his supporters say they should not be held criminally responsible for copyright infringement that Megaupload's customers may have engaged in.

Ira Rothken, an attorney who has represented Dotcom, did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

Court records do not list an attorney for Nomm.

Prosecutors have said the vast majority of data stored on the website was in violation of copyright laws. Megaupload was at one point estimated to be one of the 15 most visited sites on the Internet.

Nomm's public profile does not match that of the flamboyant Dotcom or some of the others charged in the Megaupload case. The indictment describes him as a programmer and head of Megaupload's software development division. It says he was paid more than $100,000 by Megaupload in 2010. The charges against him include copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

The indictment says Nomm is an Estonian citizen but a resident of both Estonia and Turkey.