Greens lay police complaint over Dotcom spying

KATE CHAPMAN AND ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 11:08 28/09/2012
Kim Dotcom
Reuters
KIM DOTCOM: Asked Key to "show the world that your government is not an American dancing bear".

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The Green Party has lodged a complaint with police over illegal spying on internet millionaire Kim Dotcom - and is calling on Prime Minister John Key to support the investigation.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) carried out surveillance on Dotcom, but did not check his residency status. Instead it relied on the Organised and Financial Crime Agency (OFCANZ).

The GCSB is not allowed to spy on New Zealanders.

Co-leader Russel Norman says the GCSB illicit surveillance broke a law which bans interception of private communications. 

Last year Prime Minister John Key claimed freelance cameraman had breached the same law by recording his conversation with ACT leader John Banks. No charges were laid over the so-called 'teapot tapes' scandal.

Inspector-General Paul Neazor's report, released yesterday, concluded agents had acted unlawfully because they failed to make basic checks on Dotcom's residency - and failed to grasp changes to immigration legislation.

Norman repeated Key's assertion that he called in police because '' it was a "matter of principle". 

"When he was taped in a public café by a media person discussing matters of public interest, Key kicked up an almighty fuss and had police raid media outlets to make sure the tape wasn't released,'' he said.

"If Prime Minister Key really feels so strongly about a person's right to privacy, then he should back my call for the police to investigate the illegal surveilling of New Zealand residents by a government spy agency.

Norman believed GCSB agents breached Section 216(B) of the Crimes Act.

"The seriousness of the concerted and purposeful spying on private persons by government spies is orders of magnitude greater than the teapot tapes ever were,'' he added. 

"Our spies are subject to the laws of this land. They must be held accountable by the police and the courts when they violate those laws.''

DOTCOM BACKS INQUIRY CALLS

Dotcom has backed calls for an independent inquiry into how government spies illegally intercepted his communications.

Key yesterday apologised to Dotcom and expressed his disappointment in the GCSB, for which he has ministerial responsibility.

"If things had been done properly it would have been quite clear [Dotcom] was protected," Key said

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"It is quite a basic error. They have failed at the lowest hurdle. It's quite frankly not good enough."

Neazor's damning report released yesterday called for a review of cases back to 2009.

He found there was confusion between the agencies about changes to the Immigration Act in 2009 and the subsequent effect on the GCSB legislation.

"Dotcom...is however one of a category of people who is treated in New Zealand as if he ought to have protection against collection of his information," he wrote.

Labour, NZ First and the Greens all called for an independent inquiry.

Dotcom said on Twitter that he accepted Key's apology.

"Show your sincerity by supporting a full, transparent & independent inquiry into the entire Mega case," he wrote on the social media site.

He asked Key to "show the world that your government is not an American dancing bear".

Norman said the Inspector-General was the wrong person to investigate wrong-doing by GCSB.

"One of the Inspector-General's main functions is ensuring that the GCSB does not spy on New Zealand citizens or permanent residents."

Neazor had not been able to monitor the GCSB in the Dotcom case in the first place, Norman said.

"The Inspector-General's report fails to explain why once a mistake had been made by the GCSB they failed to bring this to the attention of their the so-called watchdog - the Inspector-General himself."

Labour leader David Shearer said Neazor's report was a "whitewash".

"A broader inquiry is needed that looks at the failures at the top echelons of Government," he said.

GCSB director Ian Fletcher apologised to Key and said he would "'take every step to rebuild public confidence in his organisation".

Fletcher issued a statement apologising to Key and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, who was left red-faced when it emerged he knew about the GCSB's role in the case and signed a document to prevent it becoming public.

"I am very sorry for the way the Bureau has handled its part in the Dotcom case," he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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