The German internet entrepreneur and founder of MegaUpload has launched a New Zealand political party and said he would like to stand as an MP – despite an ongoing battle against extradition to the US.
Mr Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz, has consistently denied claims that his file-hosting websites infringed copyright laws. US prosecutors claim MegaUpload facilitated the illegal downloading of pirated films, games and TV shows worth around $175 million (£100 million).
In early 2012 armed police raided Mr Dotcom’s mansion near Auckland after a request from the FBI. He was arrested and freed on bail, with restrictions on his movements – yet that hasn’t stopped the outspoken German from setting off on a new venture.
The entrepreneur said he had taught himself everything there was to know about politics in New Zealand, and that he was launching the new Internet Party under the guiding principles of faster, cheaper internet, promotion of the tech industry and the protection of individuals’ privacy.
“It is a movement for people who haven't voted before, who have been disappointed by voting, or who don't like the political choices on offer,” Mr Dotcom said in a statement.
“It is a movement for people who care about a digital future, and who want a society that is open, free and fair.”
Mr Dotcom has also dismissed what he described as a “disgusting smear campaign” suggesting the fact he owns a rare signed copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is evidence of Nazi sympathies.
The internet mogul said he would not allow the “lies” to “derail what we are trying to achieve today”.
Under New Zealand's proportional voting system, a party must win either an electorate seat or at least 5 percent of the nationwide vote to get into the 120-seat parliament.
A Reuters survey of six polls showed the centre-right National Party, which has been in power since 2008, with 48.2 percent support against the main opposition centre-left Labour Party, which has 33.3 percent.
As a resident of New Zealand, Mr Dotcom has the right to vote in elections but cannot stand himself until he becomes a citizen.