Megaupload saga resembles Keystone Cops

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 06:20 25/09/2012

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Tracy Watkins

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OPINION: Kim Dotcom dubbed himself the real-life James Bond villain in a Hollywood blockbluster after the prime minister blew the lid on a mega cock-up by the country's spies.

Dotcom is being generous.

The handling of the Megaupload case is looking increasingly like a Keystone Cops farce.

After ordering an inquiry into unlawful interceptions, John Key baldly laid out the facts - the Government Communications Security Bureau, our equivalent to the American CIA, is not allowed, by law, to spy on New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

The GCSB spied on "certain individuals" subject to arrest warrants issued in the case.

Arrest warrants were issued against Dotcom and one of his co- accused, Bram van der Kolk, who also happen to be New Zealand residents.

It's not hard to see where the trail of breadcrumbs lead - the GCSB heard the German accent, and did not think to check whether Dotcom and his associates were New Zealand residents.

This was not the first cock-up in the case. Bungling by New Zealand authorities in the Megaupload case has now reached such epic proportions that the inquiry announced by Mr Key yesterday should be only the start. From day one, when officers carrying guns stormed the Dotcom mansion in a very un-Kiwi way, to a succession of legal blunders, there are now serious questions to answer over who has been calling the shots.

Our Government seems to be so out of the loop that it took till September 17 for the GCSB to inform Mr Key about the unlawful interceptions, despite knowing about them since August, when it came up in a High Court hearing.

Mr Key, meanwhile, refuses to answer when asked who it was that authorised or directed the GCSB to spy on Dotcom - under powers usually reserved for the collection of foreign intelligence in the interests of national security.

Surely uploading music, illegally or not, fails that test? The overriding impression is of New Zealand authorities being steamrolled by US officials into a cowboy operation which overrode all normal checks and balances.

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- The Dominion Post

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