Kim Dotcom is most likely still being spied on – but not necessarily by the United States, a court has found.
The internet mogul, who is awaiting extradition on copyright charges, believes his phone has been tapped and conversations with his lawyer intercepted, and wants the US to formally rule it out.
However, the judge hearing the case has declined to make an order, saying while he believes ongoing surveillance is likely, there’s no hard evidence to say who it is.
Judge Nevin Dawson released a District Court judgment in the Dotcom case in Auckland.
It centred on evidence from Dotcom about a phone call to his lawyer Willie Akel in August, where there was a 15 second playback of his voice on the line.
Two experts said any normal delays were usually only one to two seconds, indicating some kind of interference with the technology.
The FBI denied it used real-time recordings, and said it was not aware of ongoing surveillance.
Dotcom said if it was ongoing, it would be an abuse of court process.
Judge Dawson said the surveillance “likely occurred” but there was “not a scintilla” of hard evidence, including no evidence that linked any kind of spying to the US Government or the FBI.
He said the court needed evidence before it could ask for an affidavit from US authorities.
Dotcom has become increasingly suspicious that his communication is under watch. He was previously spied on illegally by the New Zealand Government Communication Security Bureau. Prime Minister John Key later apologised.
Meanwhile, further revelations about the nature of the charges against the Megaupload founder could be made public, if a court lifts a suppression.
US prosecutors are seeking to expose the allegations against Dotcom and his co-accused, so victims of his alleged crime can make a claim against his cash and assets seized in the raids.
The US has asked New Zealand authorities to lift the order on the case record, an almost 200-page document with all the details – before the victims’ claim rights expire.
Dotcom is fighting the request, saying it will affect his chance of a fair trial, according to his US lawyer Ira Rothken.
A decision is expected later this week.
- Fairfax Media