Court documents have revealed how information supplied by New Zealand’s Organised and Financial Crime Agency led to Kim Dotcom and his associates being illegally monitored by GCSB, the Kiwi spy agency comparable to the United States’ CIA. Today a High Court judge expressed concern at the situation, with Dotcom’ legal team calling for an independent inquiry into the fiasco. Meanwhile, pressure continues to mount on Prime Minister John Key as it’s revealed the government issued an information suppression order.
On Monday, Prime Minister John Key announced that he had requested an inquiry by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security after it was revealed that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB) illegally intercepted the communications of individuals in the Megaupload case.
GCSB is an intelligence agency of the New Zealand government responsible for spying on external entities. It is forbidden by law from conducting surveillance on its own citizens or permanent residents in the country.
Now it has been revealed that incorrect information supplied by the police’s Organized and Financial Crime Agency (OFCANZ) led the GCSB to spy on Kim Dotcom and Bram van der Kolk.
According to court documents, GCSB checked with OFCANZ that both Dotcom and der Kolk were indeed foreign nationals. OFCANZ said they were, but in fact neither should have been spied on by GCSB. The monitoring went ahead anyway.
In the High Court today, Justice Helen Winkelmann asked lawyers how it could be possible that GCSB hadn’t known about Dotcom’s New Zealand residency.
“It is something I’m concerned about,” she said.
As Dotcom and his associates continue their fight to gain access to the evidence held against them, there are fresh concerns over the evidence previously given by a top policeman in the case.
During an earlier hearing, Detective Inspector Grant Wormald of OFCANZ said that apart from surveillance carried out by the police, no other surveillance had been carried out against Dotcom.
But with the revelation that GCSB had indeed been monitoring the Megaupload founder at the behest of OFCANZ, questions are now being raised about this apparent inconsistency, not least since Wormald previously acknowledged that a secret government unit had been involved in a pre-raid planning meeting in January.
Also in the High Court today a government document came to light which had banned anyone from answering “any question” concerning GCSB’s involvement in the case. It was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, who at the time was acting Prime Minister due to John Key being out of the country. It was issued following a request from Dotcom’s legal team to reveal any information that had been gathered by GCSB.
“I have read the letter of 15 August 2012 addressed to the Crown Law Office and signed by Mr P J Davison QC requesting ‘….disclosure of all information (if any) provided by the GCSB to the New Zealand Police (including OFCANZ) relating to any information or data intercepted or obtained by GCSB relating to Mr Dotcom, Megaupload and any associated parties’,” Bill English wrote.
Noting that he had sought advice from the Director of the GCSB on the matter, English said that revealing anything would prejudice the security of New Zealand.
“I therefore object to the disclosure of any information in terms of the letter of 15 August 2012,” he concludes.
Outside the court today, Kim Dotcom gave his assessment of the current state of play.
“The New Zealand Government has underestimated the sophistication of New Zealanders, of their media, and especially of their courts,” he said. “The courts will see through this. It’s in the interests of all New Zealanders that we get to the bottom of this.”
And the pressure is clearly being felt right to the very top. As can be seen in this painful video, in parliament yesterday Prime Minister Key was subjected to question after awkward question from opposition figures on a situation that is rapidly descending into fiasco.