Dotcom's lawyers argue for special investigation
Kim Dotcom’s lawyers are attempting to convince the Auckland High Court to appoint an independent lawyer to go through all documents relevant to his extradition case to make sure statements are not being withheld without good reason.
The legal team, in the Auckland High Court today, wants to make sure the SIS and other agencies have only withheld information – or "redacted" – parts of documents in relation to Mr Dotcom’s residency bid if there is some danger to national security.
Many of the documents, which Mr Dotcom’s defence team received under the Official Information Act, have statements redacted, which could be used by the defence in the extradition case, Mr Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison QC says.
The US government wants to extradite the Internet Party founder to face charges of copyright, conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering allegedly carried out by his company, Megaupload.
Mr Dotcom's lawyers have already complained to the Privacy Commissioner and the Ombudsman that Mr Dotcom should be allowed to see all redacted information that relates to him.
Mr Dotcom has already had his bid against Immigration and the Security Intelligence Service rejected twice by courts, most recently last month.
Today, his lawyers were seeking a court order for an independent lawyer to sift through every redaction to make sure it has been legitimately withheld or not.
If the independent counsel decides some of the redactions were not necessary, that information could be released to the defence team, which may or may not help their case, Mr Davison says.
“Mr Dotcom wants access to this information so he can challenge the reliability of the record of case. If the record of case doesn’t contain material like this, it shows signs of adopting wrong and potentially misleading information.
“The net affect is someone who is meant to enjoy the freedoms of permanent residency is getting extradited without access to information about himself, and the state holding that information is allowing that.
“In 2014 we have a rights-based jurisdiction and it would be wrong to try and hark back to a less enlightened era,” he says.
Mr Dotcom – who proposes to drop "a bombshell" at an Internet Party rally tonight – was arrested in a police raid in January 2012, when a large number of electronic items were seized from his house and shipped to the US for investigation.
Mr Davison says the extradition case was unusual since the SIS, GSCB, and FBI were involved. “When one is subject to an extradition request matters of liberty come into play … But natural justice must be met.”
But Justice Simon France questioned the need for today’s hearing since the Privacy Commissioner and Ombudsman had already reviewed the request for documents, and says it is not clear whether the court had power or reason to order special investigation of the redactions.
The case is likely to continue tomorrow with a response from the US' legal team.