NZ's handling of Dotcom 'test case' watched closely in US, and with concern: Curran
The government's "bungled handling" of the Megaupload case is being watched closely by United States law enforcement agencies, says Labour communications and IT spokeswoman Clare Curran.
Ms Curran has just returned from a US State Department-sponsored trip.
The focus of the trip was on intellectual property and IP law enforcement, and Ms Curran told NBR ONLINE she meet with Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Justice – albeit as part of a group of 19 from other countries.
Ms Curran was the only politician on the tour, which also included lawyers, academics and senior law enforcement officers from 17 countries.
The group meet government and law enforcement reps in Washington DC and New York. But the State Department also took them around two big US companies with a keen interest in defending IP – Microsoft in Washington state and Nike in Oregon.
On her return to New Zealand she fired off a press release called "Dotcom bungles being watched closely in USA" (below).
It is easy to see the Megaupload case being watched closely. Ms Curran says the federal agencies she met with see it as a test case, which it clearly is.
But did anyone she met in US government call it bungling, or is that Ms Curran's spin?
"I’d rather not comment," Ms Curran told NBR, before pausing then adding, "There’s a high degree of awareness of the unfolding of events in NZ and what I picked up on was a high level of concern.”
The State Department trip was under Chatham House rules so the Labour MP cannot quote any US official.
It is her clear interpretation of events, however, that the handling of the case is "impacting badly on our international reputation".
Ms Curran adds, for good measure, that given the high-level US government interest in the case she witnessed during her trip, it is unthinkable Prime Minister John Key could not have been part of discussions about the case, and extradition issues, before the January 20 raid on Dotcom mansion.
Mr Key says the first he heard was the day before the raid.
Incidentally, US officials on the tour did discuss the controversial Transpacific Partnership trade deal, Ms Curran says – but more from an explanatory than a lobbying point of view.
The likes of the Motion Picture Association of America and recording and gaming industry groups were seen as key stakeholders and given access to her group.
The Labour Party MP listened to their side of the story, but note there was no US equivalent to InternetNZ – at least none that got a seat at the top table.
RAW DATA: Clare Curran press release
Dotcom bungles being watched closely in USA
The New Zealand Government’s bungled handling of the Megaupload case is being watched closely by United States law enforcement agencies and what they see isn’t pretty, Labour’s communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran says.
Curran has just returned from a three week US State Department-funded study tour looking at the American perspective on intellectual property enforcement.
“The Megaupload case is high on the agenda of all enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Justice along with the IP content owners, such as the Motion Picture Association (MPAA),” Clare Curran says.
“It was made clear to me that the ‘New Zealand Government’s co-operation’ is essential for the successful extradition of New Zealand resident Kim Dotcom and his co-accused in Megaupload. This case is seen as an important test for the US enforcement agencies.
“American interest in this case reaches the highest levels. It is unthinkable that New Zealand Government ministers and the Prime Minister would not have been part of discussions about the case and the extradition issues before the raid occurred on 20 January.
“The National Government has not done New Zealand any favours to date with its botched handling of the Megaupload case. There are too many unanswered questions, the most important ones being what was the involvement of politicians in the Megaupload case before and after the 20 January raid, and why was New Zealand so eager to co-operate?
“Our international reputation as a nation which makes its own decisions based on the rule of law is precious but the Prime Minister’s inability to be upfront with New Zealanders about his and his Government’s true role in the case is putting our credibility on the line.
“New Zealand’s public interest demands that that the truth is told, that our laws are upheld, and our reputation as an independent nation is not undermined,” Curran said.