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PM admits illegal spying on Dotcom – orders inquiry

UPDATE:

One of Kim Dotcom’s lawyers says he is not surprised by an inquiry into whether or not Kim Dotcom was illegally spied on ahead of his arrest.

But the inquiry, announced by Prime Minister John Key yesterday afternoon, is still being digested as to the possible implications for his fight against extradition to the US, where authorities want to charge him for criminal copyright infringement and money laundering of some $US500 million in relation to his Megaupload website.

Simpson Grierson partner Greg Towers says he understands the memorandum advising the High Court of unlawful acts by the Government Communications Security Bureau is subject to suppression orders relating to the January police raid on his rented mansion in Coatesville.

That means he has to be tight-lipped with comments about potential damage to Megaupload litigation.

“We’ll just have to see how the inquiry pans out.”

However, he says the three-page memorandum is correctly summarised in the Prime Minister’s statement, released yesterday.

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Yesterday 4pm:

Prime Minister John Key has ordered an inquiry into "unlawful" interception of communications relating to the Kim Dotcom case.

In a statement just released Mr Key says  he has requested an inquiry by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security into the "circumstances of unlawful interception of communications of certain individuals by the Government Communications Security Bureau".

A lawyer close to the case says he has seen the memo, which expands on the details given in the prime minister's press release.

He says essentially it means "the police had significantly more information than the High Court has been told they had" before they executed the search warrants.

Inquiries to the GCSB's director, Ian Fletcher, were referred to the deputy director, Hugh Wolfensohn.

He told NBR ONLINE: "There will be no comment from this department on this matter at all.

"The matter is before the court and as the prime minister's statement makes clear, also the subject of an inquiry by the Inspector-General."

Mr Wolfensohn would not confirm whether any individual within the GCSB was subject to the inquiry. 

Mr Key, the minister in charge of security, says he is disappointed unlawful acts had taken place.

"I expect our intellegence agencies to operate always within the law. Their operations depend on public trust."

Mr Dotcom was quick to respond via social media, tweeting "I'm now a real life James Bond villain in a real life political copyright thriller scripted by Hollywood & the White House."

The inquiry comes amid allegations unit's staff unlawfully acquired communications relating to the Megaupload case.

The Crown has filed a memorandum in the High Court in the Megaupload case advising the judiciary the GCSB "acted unlawfully while assisting the police to locate certain individuals subject to arrest warrants" by acquiring some communications without statutory authority, Mr Key said in a statement.

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Paul Neazor will investigate the matter and has been asked to recommend measures to prevent a repeat occurrence.

"I expect our intelligence agencies to operate always within the law," Mr Key said. "Their operations depend on public trust."

The memorandum comes just days after a Court of Appeal hearing in the Megaupload case where the US Federal government sought to quash a court order for it to provide evidence in support of its claim to extradite the file-sharing website's founder Mr Dotcom and three of his lieutenants.

Painful irony – InternetNZ
"We're disappointed the Government has apparently broken New Zealand law to pursue individuals alleged to have broken US law," InternetNZ chief executive Vikram Kumar told NBR ONLINE.

"Combined with judicial findings on the Megaupload case to date, the irony of breaking the law to arrest people alleged to have broken the law is painful."

End of law breaking?
"It also raises the question of whether this is the full extent of law-breaking [by NZ authorities] in this case," Mr Kumar said.

Labour leader David Shearer said "John Key must also come clean about his claim that he hadn’t heard of Kim Dotcom until the solicitor-general briefed him the day before the raid on the German businessman’s mansion.

"This is simply not credible given the range of people close to John Key who were involved in the Dotcom case.

“He is responsible as prime minister for signing off all intercept warrants by GSCB.

"While it’s been revealed that ‘some’ bugging was done illegally, it is not credible to think that other monitoring by the agency was not signed by the prime minister before the raid was carried out."

Crown Law had no comment.

"Stalling tactics"
The US authorities allege Mr Dotcom and his co-accused engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering of some $US500 million.

Last week, Mr Dotcom vented his frustration at the US government's stalling tactics, telling reporters his accusers were "just dragging things out".

"If it was up to them, we would have no money for our legal defence, no evidence to defend ourselves, we would not even have our own computers back to show our own evidence," he said.

Kim Dotcom's extradition hearing is due to begin in March 2013.

Comments and questions
35

The system has failed again.

OMG great call from John Key. He does everything right! Best PM ever!

Hang on .. isnt John Key the guy that okie-dokies these sorts of orders to begin with ?

Kim for PM !

I'm going to stick my neck out and guess that the GCSB was misled into doing this by some other foreign or local officials.

Too much of a coincidence that screw-ups occurred in every aspect of this major politically-organised c*ck-up.

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

Good work John Key

Hopefully you will also put a stop to the nonsense that Kim Dotcom is currently facing and ensure true justice is done. The government should also ensure no one has to go through such American contrived nonsense in the future - the NZ police deserve a right royal bollocking on the way they acted when arresting Dotcom.

What about the New Zealand contrived nonsense? No kiwi should have to go through that.

Try making an official information request of the Police or IRD. St back and watch the lies, obfuscation and breaking of the law. Sure, it is a small thing. But as any criminologist will tell you, it always starts with small things.

By any reasonable definition our public service is corrupt. Key really should be cleaning the whole lot up.

Hear, hear. Our State sector has gotten way to bolshy and uppity since all this terrorism BS and Internet surveillance laws have been jammed down our throats. Time to show them who's paying their wages, goes for the pollies also.

Is this a liberal democracy with accountability and transparency in govt. or something else? Why the need for secret, "above the law", "unnamed and unnameable" spooky agencies at all? Who's side are they on?

Go Jon Key.

Good work? This is JK's fault!

The raid was in his electorate. It involved international collaboration. He is the minister for the GCSB. The suggestion he didn't know is farcical.

This case is about film studios. JK loves film studios.

John Key is a little puppet for the US. We need to watch him closely or he'll rubber stamp everything the American demanded from us.

No truer word has ever been spoken...

US might be too general...US authority being more appropriate...

Probably sniffing around me, for all the emails exposure I am giving them...

Follow the money

yep, were watching

Unfortunately when it comes to the US, National have always been like teen with a crush and they seem unable to think for themselves. Remember how critical they were when the Labour government refused to slavishly follow the US into Iraq.

Claiming he's a puppet "for the US" is too generous. He's a puppet for film studios. As a private interest, I find that even more disgusting.

We're a country with a proud history of standing up for what we believe in. Emphasis 'history'.

So is anyone in the government going to get punished that broke the law? Probably not which is the irony of government immunity from its own laws.

Wow - what a ballz-up! Dotcom continues to look whiter than white thanks to the ineptitude of the US and NZ Government authorities.

Can only imagine his legal team rubbing their hands with glee. When this charade of a lawsuit/extradition finally topples over there is going to be one hell of a damages claim coming....any lawyer who could fog a mirror will win it with ease.

Bronson - Good point mate. Watch the TPP "negotiations", they tried this NAFTA-esque thing a few years ago and it quickly got canned when the public got wind of it....hence the secret talks this time around.

The FBI must be thinking that our GSCB are a bunch of rank amateurs. Bit like comparing the Navy Seals to wide-eyed Boy Scouts, who'd need rescuing if let loose in a nature reserve park.

The FBI are hardly a great example to compare to.

Maybe if you had of compared with the Israeli equivalent your argument would stack up

Our cops paired with the GCSB, is where the Keystone Kops meet Abbott and Costello.

What a load of red herrings, the Gov. communications security bureau is getting investigated for monitoring communications.
That's NZ!!

John, have you heard of Ministerial Accountability?

If John Key knew, he should resign. And then be charged.
If he didn't know, he should resign.

What a load of cxxp

Remind me again what the GCSB are for? Matters of National Security, liek terrorists and people with bombs and guns and spying and stuff no?

What the heck are doing involved in a foreign civil copyright charge?

Someone want to reign in the "can neither confirm or deny their existence agencies"? Liberal democracy or some sort of crypto-facist dictatorship?

John Morrison strikes again.

This is extraordinary !
Why dont Crown Law & the Police just admit this was a b*lls up of monumental proportions and they plan to start negotiating compensation for wrecking his business and FBI had better start budgeting for their share owed due to instigating this fiasco.

If the raid on dotcom's home was as a result of information obtained illegally then the whole case against him falls over.
Just what john key wants, to make the whole mess go away without allowing dotcom to be found not guilty in a court.

The government should also ensure no one has to go through such American contrived nonsense in the future.
Test Paper

Who signed it off and where does the buck ultimately stop? I think we all know the answer.

labour are behind this

How can Labour be behind an illegal investigation of Dotcom?

What? So you're not blaming the Greens this time??!!

Just remember who John Key used to work for.

Now it becomes clear why a baseball match abroad was more important than attending a funeral for soldiers. Key wanted to be well out the way when the spooks came calling.

maybe the truth well come out to why power jumped ship to west pac . strange that a man that rose fast through the ranks of national should suddenly bail out . i suspect he did not wont to be about when this blew up in the governments face., power and his cronies are the instigators of this whole sham . the only reson we are getting here and see this is because kim has the ability to fight the ilegal activities of the police and justice of nz where we the average kiwi dont have a hope of getting this far . esspecally now that legal aid has being made harder and harder to aquire resonable llegal council and funding .
we should all be thanking kim for exposing how corrupt the system and old boys network is . thank you kim