WELLINGTON - Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom announced Monday he will launch a political party in New Zealand to contest next year's elections, drawing a scornful response from Prime Minister John Key.
Dotcom said his plans were still embryonic but the yet-to-be-named party would launch on January 20, the second anniversary of an armed police raid on his Auckland mansion which resulted in him being charged with online piracy. "WOW! I'm getting so many encouraging messages about my plans for a new political party. Thank you," the 39-year-old tweeted.
The Internet mogul revealed few details of his platform beyond saying he wanted to improve New Zealand's information technology infrastructure, including "fair Internet pricing and no more data caps".
"The party website with information about our vision and candidates will launch with another BIG event on Jan 20, 2014. Second raid anniversary," he said on Twitter.
Dotcom, who denies any wrongdoing and is free on bail as he fights extradition to the United States, also took a swipe at Key, whom he accuses of bowing to Hollywood pressure by pursuing the case against him.
Key, who will be seeking a third term in the 2014 general election, dismissed the move as a stunt and suggested Dotcom name his organisation the "no-hope" party.
"It's like everything we see from the guy, he wants to stay here to fight his extradition treaty, he's got some very good PR people, we'll see how it goes," he told TV3.
Dotcom responded on Twitter: "I don't have PR people. I'm just good at being myself. Try that Mr Key."
He used the hashtag #Gimme5Percent on one of his tweets, referring to the five per cent threshold a political party needs under New Zealand's proportional voting system to win representation in parliament.
While Dotcom has New Zealand residency, he is a German national, meaning he cannot be be elected to parliament personally.
But he told technology website torrentfreak.com that his nationality did not prevent him from launching a political party in New Zealand and becoming its president.
"Someone needs to lead New Zealand into the future," he said. "Unfortunately the current government doesn't know what the future looks like."
Dotcom has become a celebrity in New Zealand during his legal battle. He made number 98 on a Reader's Digest list of New Zealand's 100 most trusted people released in June. Key was ranked 80th.