Megaupload sequel faces Gabon's suspension order setback

Mega website Details of the Mega project are still available online at an alternative website

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Efforts to create a follow-up file-sharing service to Megaupload have been dealt a blow after Gabon blocked access to its intended web address.

The West African nation said it was worried the Me.ga site would host copyright infringing files.

Kim Dotcom - the tech entrepreneur behind the scheme - said the move was a result of a "bad faith witch hunt" being carried out by the US government.

The 38-year-old faces charges of money laundering and fraud, which he denies.

He is currently living in New Zealand and engaged in a legal battle to prevent his extradition to the US, where he faces a jail sentence of up to 20 years if found guilty of earning about $175m (£109m) through illegal means.

Defending publishers

Mr Dotcom detailed his plans to launch a Gabon-based service last week.

Twitter screenshot Mr Dotcom expressed his frustration at the news on Twitter

He said the product would be launched on 20 January, a year to the day since he was arrested alongside others who had worked at Megaupload.

He said that uploads to the site would be encrypted to ensure their contents remained "confidential", and had suggested that basing the site at Gabon's .ga domain, rather than in the US, would "avoid another takedown".

However Gabon's Communication Minister, Blaise Louembe, said he had acted to block the site before the service launched in order to "protect intellectual property rights".

"Gabon cannot serve as a platform for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people," he said.

Back-up plan

Mr Dotcom suggested the decision had been taken as a consequence of pressure from the US and the media group Vivendi.

"Don't worry. We have an alternative domain," he posted on Twitter.

In a later tweet, he ridiculed the move, saying: "Gabon Minister used time machine to analyze legality of the future Mega. Verdict: Cyber crime! Gets 5$ award from the FBI."

Although the Me.ga site is now offline, Mr Dotcom is still providing information about his plans at an alternative site, at which he appeals for hosting companies in other countries who might support the service to get in touch.

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