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GCSB had no wire-tap warrant in unlawful spying: Key

BUSINESSDESK: The government intelligence agency that has admitted unlawfully spying was operating without a warrant when it undertook the operations relating to the Kim Dotcom case, virtually confirming the target was a foreign national rather than a New Zealander.

At his post-Cabinet press conference yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister John Key would reveal very few details beyond his statement earlier today that he had ordered an inquiry into the unlawful interceptions by the Government Communications Security Bureau.

However, he confirmed the GCSB, a parallel organisation to the Security Intelligence Service, only requires a warrant for interceptions when it involves a New Zealand resident.

Kim Dotcom, the German-born internet entrepreneur at the centre of an extradition bid by US law enforcement authorities, was declined New Zealand citizenship.

Three other foreign nationals are also among those targeted in the US-led operation which saw Mr Dotcom's north Auckland mansion raided on January 20.

Mr Key said he was made aware of the unlawful spying on September 17 and immediately ordered an inquiry into what he believed was an "error or mistake".

"I was quite shocked," he said.

The Crown Law Office and police have already weathered criticism they were too eager to help the US Federal Bureau of Investigations in its attempt to pin internet piracy charges on Mr Dotcom, founder of the Megaupload internet file sharing site.

Mr Key indicated the GCSB interceptions related to more than one person, referring to "the individuals involved", but would not comment on whether communications intercepted were emails, phone calls or both.

The GCSB is a signals intelligence service, combing telecommunications traffic for evidence of issues that could affect national security.

Mr Key repeatedly asserted he had not known of the Dotcom investigation before the raid in January, or of the GCSB's involvement in surveillance relating to the Dotcom case before September 17, when he was informed by its director, Ian Fletcher.

Asked whether he took responsibility for the error, Key said "no".

"The first I heard of it was last Monday. I indicated my displeasure and that a full inquiry would be necessary."

No GCSB staff had been stood down while the inquiry took place, he said.

Comments and questions

When was Kim Dotcom declined New Zealand citizenship? He was denied permission to purchase the mansion but that's not citizenship.

He is a resident of New Zealand hence the $10 million in NZD government bonds he purchased to obtain it.

There is no point asking John Key about "responsibility". It is quite clear he does not know what the word means.

Im predicting a John Banks type response ahead "I cant recall".

you sure you don't mean a Winnie Peters card saying "No"?

So they are saying its an error as they thought he wasnt a NZ resident- since that would be the first question to be looked into of any wiretap protocol they a obviously more keen to say they a totally incompetent than admit whatever else happened.

Article reads like he is not a legal resident , which he is, and therefore protected.

If Dotcom is a "legal resident", then why was he not allowed to buy a house? Please

John Key is so busy fighting the fires in front of him, he hasn't been watching his back or what is going on around him.
Time for him to stop being a businessman, and time to start being a high level politician.

So it's all JKs fault the GCSB mucked up

What would you have done differently then?

indemnity order, thanks Bill English for lumping the cost on the tax payer.

Said no to the GCSB and stayed within the law

GCSB claims that they just discovered they had acted illegally are not credible. At the time of his arrest in Jan 2012 a big deal was made of Dotcom's $10m government bond as part of his business category residency. To suggest that from Jan 2012 until Sept 2012 nobody at GCSB noticed that Mr Dotcom was a NZ resident is beyond a joke. The first thing the GCSB must determine before they can monitor a target is if the person is a NZ citizen or resident. As soon as they identified from media reports he was a resident and they had acted illegally they should have informed the Prime Minister.

indemnity order, thanks Bill English for lumping the cost on the tax payer.

Why was China spying on Kim? Is it because he has a Korean name?

So what , if you have nothing to hide ,you have nothing to worry about .

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

Well said, but sadly just a little too profound and deep for your average dotcom d*ckylicker.

John Morrison, he is an approved resident which is why he resides here. He wasn't allowed to buy a house under overseas investment rules because the ministers well knew this was going to go down.

Typical Key, just drop those people in it who were only doing what he asked. GCSB are good people and they deserve better from Mr Gutless the vote chaser.
Keys has no standards.