(Reuters) - A New Zealand court refused an appeal by the founder of online file-sharing site Megaupload.com to be freed on bail on Friday, agreeing with prosecutors there was a risk he would attempt to flee before an extradition hearing.
Kim Dotcom, a German national also known as Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, was returned to custody until February 22 ahead of a hearing on an extradition application by the United States.
Prosecutors say Dotcom was the leader of a group that netted $175 million since 2005 by copying and distributing music, movies and other copyrighted content without authorization.
Dotcom's lawyers say the company simply offered online storage and that he strenuously denies the charges and will fight extradition.
Dotcom, 38, and three others were arrested on January 20 after armed New Zealand police raided his country estate at the request of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He told the court that, with his assets frozen and business shut down, he had no intention of trying to flee to his native Germany, where he would be safe from extradition.
"I will not run away. I want to fight these allegations on a level playing field. I have three little children. My wife is pregnant with twins. I just want to be with them," he said in court.
The prosecution again painted Dotcom as an extreme flight risk because of he had had multiple passports, sources of funds, and access to various means of travel.
It also said he had a previous history of trying to evade arrest, when he allegedly fled to Thailand from Germany to dodge insider trading charges.
The United States is expected to file its extradition application within the next few weeks.
(Writing by Gyles Beckford in WELLINGTON; Editing by Paul Tait)