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Another Dotcom review: Key told in February

Prime minister John Key now accepts he could have been told of Kim Dotcom’s surveillance by the Government Communications Security Bureau in February.

The government spying agency has been under fire since late last month when it was discovered the GCSB had been illegally spying on internet mogul Mr Dotcom.

Director Ian Fletcher has met with Mr Key again after reviewing all the relevant material.

Among the latest findings released today Mr Fletcher says:

  • John Key was not briefed by the GCSB on its role in the Dotcom matter, nor any issues of potential illegality, until Monday, September 17.
  • John Key was not briefed by any group or official within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on the GCSB’s role in the Dotcom matter ahead of the September 17 meeting. Roy Ferguson, Director of the Intelligence Co-ordination Group, was made aware by GCSB of its role in the arrest of Mr Dotcom the day of the raid but only after it occurred in January 2012. Mr Ferguson has advised the prime minister that his records indicate he did not subsequently brief the prime minister on the matter.

Until now, Mr Key has insisted he was not told of the involvement until September 17, when he was briefed over GCSB's bungle.

“While neither the GCSB director nor I can recall the reference to the Dotcom matter being made during my visit to the bureau back in February, I accept that it may well have been made,” Mr Key admitted in a press statement.

 Mr Key visited GCSB’s offices on February 29 to talk about the bureau’s wider capabilities when a power point presentation made mention of the Dotcom arrest a few weeks earlier and contained one small picture of Dotcom.

In advising the prime minister later of the talking points at the meeting, Mr Fletcher told Mr Key he had no recollection of the Dotcom matter being raised at the meeting.

In a statement issued today by Mr Fletcher, he says another case from 2009 has been identified where the bureau was asked by police for call data record relating to a telephone belonging to a New Zealand resident. In that case, no surveillance was carried out.

There were also two further cases identified from 2010 and 2011 which raised a potential issue relating to the relationship of the GCSB’s legislation and that of other law enforcement and security agencies.

Since GCSB’s bungled handling of the Dotcom affair has been made public, Mr Fletcher has publicly apologised to Mr Key and Dotcom and cabinet secretary Rebecca Kitteridge has been installed as associate director to carry out a review of the GCSB.

Mr Key now plans to correct his statements made to the House when it sits again on October 16.

More by Blair Cunningham

Comments and questions

This latest revelation has the potential to bring Key down, just like Watergate did to Nixon.

I wouldn't have thought so based on the above story. No smoking gun yet.

Do the numbers.

Theres been 58 spy investigations by the GSCB over nine years, or less than 7 per year. If I was in charge, Id remember who those 7 were..

So many things just dont stack up here...

Lets not mentions the flawed Asset Sale ideology...or

The failed tax changes that the country cant to the rich...lets remember most only get paid well because there are hundreds below paid poorly...Rarely is it performance driven...

Jonkey is nothing but a fraud. You cant hide behind a fake smile for too long. His poor performance is the true measure.

If you havent worked out he works for the big corporates, banks and oil companies, you must have blinkers on. This lot do nothing but destroy wealth for their own short term personal gain...

"If I was in charge, Id remember who those 7 were."

No doubt the CEO does, at least the recent ones. But you misunderstand the role of the responsible Minister which is not operational but to set policy, objectives, budgets and standards.

From the rest of your comment, you misunderstand a good many other things as well.

Agree. This government is rapidly losing credibility and people start to notice that the man hiding behind the "smile and the wave" is hopelessly vain land without any morals or compassion for the people of NZ.

Key is a money trader and adept at calling bluffs. It is just too implausible that so many people at the highest level, knew the machinations of the illegalities what was going on with Dotcom and the claims that Key wasn’t in the loop, simply does not fit. I call hogwash on Key’s denials, and his trip to Hollywood is just another bluff to fool NZ’r he has nothing to hide. For obvious reasons, wouldn’t be at all surprised that the US will drop extradition proceedures against Dotcom, in the not too distant future. If Key is telling the truth regarding events, then he is very poorly read, informed and presides over various people in govt departments who consider themselves to be above the law. Either way, he has to be history

Not so sure. It does seem conceivable to me that GCSB was called in by the police at an operational level after the political decisions had been taken to assist the US. It's unlikely back in February that GCSB would have seen their involvement as a major issue involving security policy or strategy to highlight with their Minister. It only became major whenever the penny dropped with them that Dotcom was a resident and they had violated the law. That's when reporting becomes the big issue. Who knew what when is the big question but the bureaucrats will not be keen to tell us.

Notwithstanding any other matter, Dotcom headed a legitimate, NZ based, billion dollar business that was destroyed by NZ govt employees, in less than the blink of an eye. Dotcom has not committed or, been charged with any offence under any NZ Statute. Copyright infringement (both in USA and NZ) is a civil matter and fall outside the schedule of offences covered by the NZ/US extradition treaty. The problem as I see it, is that before Dotcom can face money laundering charges (and an extraditable offence under the treaty), he must first be tried and convicted of copyright infringement under US law. Chicken or egg? Whether these charges are trumped up or, not, the NZ Govt has unlawfully turned all of its might on a NZ resident to have him removed to another country, to be served up as a sacrificial lamb for Hollywood. Ladies and gentleman of NZ, this is not good and I believe Key is calling the tune.

Paul Marsden

The FBI tried the same secondary copyright infringement charges they are bringing against Dotcom in the Rojadirecta case in 2011. When the spanish company "Puerto 80" decided to challenge the FBI in USA courts the FBI dropped the charges and returned the domains they ceased.

The parallel between the Rojadirecta and Dotcom cases is that the Feds are attempting to uses a US Supreme Court civil precedent to create a criminal act that doesn't exist in US statute. Megaupload may have "induced copyright infringement" but the fact is that this is not against the law. Whats more under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the USA all Megaupload had to do was respond to takedown requests of copyright holders of any files alleged of copyright infringement. The not only complied with that they also gave login access for media companies to delete files themselves without needing to even pester Megaupload to do it for them.

This all circles back around to the secret TPP treaty negotiations. The USA government can not pass legislation to update these laws because there is not enough votes to support the changes the US media companies want to enhance copyright laws (S.O.P.A and others). The TPP is an end run around sovereign countries reluctance to pass far reaching laws in favour of stronger copyright protections. John Key will be back in New Zealand in December (when the next TPP negotiation round will be in NZ) and try sell us on the great thing TPP will do for job creation and free trade. But the catch is it will give foreign corporations the right to sue the NZ Government if in the future our voters decide we would like more liberal Intellectual Property right rules that may cost them money.

Say it isn't so?? Well just look at the loop hole National just slipped in to allow Software Patents that was opposed by over 90% of the New Zealand software development industry after a meeting with Microsoft and IBM. The government is prepared to sell us down the river to assist big business and USA commercial interest.

What is the evidence that Dotcom's business was NZ based. Has it, or he, filed any tax returns in NZ? Or GST returns? Perhaps Dotcom could enlighten us, as he is so fond of being in the limelight.

No I figured out the money laundering . Its at 243 Crime Act. It needs the would-be copyright infringing as the "serious offence" defined by that section. There never has been an extradition offence. Its not that secondary infringement couldn't be criminal but Collins and Co were stretching the law too far to even consider it. And why do it anyway when there is civil remedy?. If it had gone to Harvey for the warrants then they probably wouldn't have got them

If anybody at GCSB watched the evening news the night of the Dotcom home invasion by NZ Police they would have heard repeatedly that Mr Dotcom was a NZ Resident. The moment they heard Mr Dotcom was a NZ Resident they should have known that they had inadvertently broken the law and done something about it. Lets not forget about the ONLY thing the GCSB can not do is spy on NZ citizens and resident. This is something they all get told day one on the job. Further more the Police it would seem informed the GCSB in Feb at the post operation review that the GCSB involvement may have been illegal and GCSB lawyers supposedly reviewed and told the Police not the worry about it. This has GCSB coverup written all over it. No we know the GCSB told Key also in February? How can this be anything other than a coverup?

Paul, Rob, I agree with all you say. I just don't think it is yet proven when Key (or anyone else) knew about it.

Fair comment Alan. The facts of who knew what when may come out in the wash - or maybe not if it ends up being a whitewash! But it is clear to me that English attempted to cover up with the suppression order (while Key was conveniently in the US). Fot that he should go and if it is found that he was action on the instructions of Key (which I strongly suspect) then Key should go too!

Maybe Teflon does not guarantee non-stick for all substances.

It just gets better. Every story like this adds another zero to the pending lawsuit!!

Might be cheaper just to give NZ to Dotcom. When he's finished there won't be any money left in the government coffers - and rightly so. This needs to be a very hard and painful lesson - never to be be forgotten.

Appalling revelation

Politically very damaging to Mr Key and his governments reputation and credibility. He should fire his advisors who keep letting him down before he makes statements - surely he seeks advice before making such inaccurate statememts.

I think it is now time to ask Simon Power what he knew back when he kicked this investigation off. (whilst eviscerating our liberties with laws ... like take away right to silence for matters of "national security" GCSB decides what that means of course, for example.)

I'm afraid that nobody believes politicians any more, with good reason. And is there any pressing reason to make an exception in this case?

Worse, they inflict their arbitrary and often self-serving decisions on the rest of the country.

Agree, do they not get the meaning of the words "Public Servants"

Dot Com lives in Key's electorate where the big Germans penchant for speeding had apparently caused complaint by locals at the electorate level.
The evidence is mounting of a politician either having a very poor memory or not paying attention at the electorate ;level, the Local govt level, John Banks and Auckland City and at all layers of his Prime Ministership inlcuding the security services.
My bet is that he had been briefed on more than one occasion of Kim Dot Coms problems with the FBI and choose to BS the country.
Brown Bread John thanks for coming. A moments inattention as a money market trader and you are gone burger.A Prime Ministership is very non forgiving. You do afterall work for us, the voters.

This Kim Dotcom case positively reeks.

What essentially is a civil dispute -- involving copyright -- the NZ government marshalls multiple agencies that lead to an armed lightning raid on someone's home; there is the wholesale seizure of all his vehicles, he's summarily tossed into jail under a wholly contrived and unsubstantiated pretext, his bank accounts are frozen as well as other assets. All for what? A grey area involving copyright infringement, that's yet to be tested in court.

NZ is looking like a gutless lackey; a martinet who jiggles to the strings being pulled from the U.S. A. SICKENING!!

NZ is a marionette, (willingly) jiggled by the U.S.

Given that NZ is a fawning and craven lackey, it could not be claimed that the US is a martinet.

Tripped up by a malapropism. I deserve a flogging: I meant 'marionette'.

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!
This is no fantasyland, its a bloody nightmare...

What on earth is all the steam about.

It is far from certain whether Dotcom was actually mentioned at the briefing in February. He was to feature in a presentation, but it is unclear whether the presentation was made as prepared.

The explanation lies in the relationship between the Police and GCSB. What the Police requested GCSB to do and what the Police told GCSB at the time of the request. Neither Mr Key nor the Director of the GCSB can be blamed if a high ranking police officer, gave a mistaken account of Mr Dotcom's immigration status.

This is not a matter of great importance. Yet the left and civil rights lunatics are suggesting this is a monumental failure of government. It is nothing more than an operational error, caused by a Police Officer, acting independantly.

Can we now congratulate Mr Norman and Mr Shearer on being great opposition noise makers and get on with the economy ! A topic neither Norman, Shearer or Winstone for that matter know much about.

The left are just scrambling at any straw they can to "get" Key. They have given up on coming up with better policies and are now just going for the man. Lefty 101 - nasty party stuff.

and the right are all "move along, nothing to see here"

Just bungling staff, police and spies. Nothing to be concerned about.

Illegal activity is illegal regardless if it is accidental or intentional

Most trusted, not:

5. Banks (not John)
4. Finance companies
3. Used Car Dealers
2. Lawyers
1. Politicians

That is all.

I would have put EQC & Insurers in that list at No. 2

It has been a bad day for the Key Govt. Key, Wilkinson and Parata (again!) have upped the crisis barometer in Cabinet (and the Party at large I shouldn't wonder)!

#15 - that could be an interesting line of questioning for Kim - speeding - what happened to the ticket....

It will come to pass that:

a) The US will abandon the extradition proceedures against Dotcom.
b) The NZ taxpayer will be left to pick up the damages bill caused by arrogant, incompetent, gung-ho individuals in positions of power, who's egos have clouded their good judgement. These incompetents need to be identified and hauled before the Courts, and made to pay the damages from their own pockets. But of course, the taxpayer pays their obscene salaries anyway.

What an absolute mess some people have got this country into..

Paul Marsden

What happens when Teflon gets too hot?
It turns toxic and poisons you!

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: "That is my reading of the police report."

The John Banks police report he didn't read.