internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom introduced today to assist his electoral efforts in New Zealand.

The US government whistleblower, Edward Snowden, and the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, were two of the foreign guests that internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom introduced today to assist his electoral efforts in New Zealand.

Mr Snowden appeared at an Auckland public meeting via video link from Russia, while Mr Assange spoke from the Ecuadorean embassy in London as part of the election campaign by Mr Dotcom’s Internet Mana party.
Mr Dotcom has been drawing large, enthusiastic crowds on the campaign trail, even as he fights extradition attempts by the US on racketeering charges over his now-closed file-sharing site Megaupload. He cannot run for office because he is not a New Zealand citizen, but he has poured more than £1m into a small party that is on target to win two or three of the 120 seats in Parliament when the nation goes to the polls on Saturday.
He promised a theatrical finale: an exposé of New Zealand’s spying activities, the truthfulness of Prime Minister John Key and “the sordid workings of Hollywood”.
But while Mr Dotcom, a German-Finnish entrepreneur, said he would produce proof that Mr Key had misled the public about his case, he did not mention anything about that at today’s rally. Mr Key has said that Mr Dotcom’s political aspirations are a cynical attempt to thwart the justice system and avoid extradition. A political appointee, the Justice Minister, is required to give final approval to any extradition proceedings.
The Internet Mana party is attracting younger voters by promising to deliver free higher education, cut the price of internet access, fight mass surveillance, decriminalise marijuana and protect native dolphins. But Mr Dotcom may fall short of one of his main goals: getting the centre-right Mr Key voted out of office. Polls indicate that Mr Key remains popular and is likely to win a third three-year term, although that would be in jeopardy if opposition parties such as Mr Dotcom’s gained more than half of the parliamentary seats and formed a coalition.
Edward Snowden appeared at the public meeting via video link from Russia (AP)
Megaupload was a popular file-hosting site before the US government shut it down in 2012. Mr Dotcom, who spent a month in jail in New Zealand before being released on bail, has since created another service, called Mega.
US prosecutors accuse the 40-year-old of facilitating the widespread piracy of music and movies. Mr Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz in Germany, argues that he cannot be held responsible for the activity of those who used his site to illegally download material.
He says he has not become politically active for his own sake but in response to the New Zealanders who have supported him since his dramatic 2012 arrest, in which dozens of armed officers stormed his mansion. He told a rally in Wellington rally last month: “Since I’m here anyway and I can’t go anywhere, I might as well use this for something to give back.”

The Wikileaks founder spoke via a link-up from the Ecuadorean embassy in London (Getty)
Mr Dotcom founded the Internet Party, which in May joined forces with the Mana Movement, a party rooted in giving indigenous Maori a political voice. The merger appeared odd to many but from a purely pragmatic viewpoint it made sense: Mr Dotcom had the money to bankroll a big campaign, while Mana had the support to win seats in Parliament, thanks to the popularity of its leader, Hone Harawira.
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