Hacked emails revealed online

AIMEE GULLIVER, MICHAEL FOX, HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 18:16 18/08/2014

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A website claiming to have access to Cameron Slater's hacked emails has released images suggesting the Whale Oil blogger had advice on Official Information Act requests from former Beehive staffer Jason Ede.

This afternoon the @WhaleDump Twitter account linked to a zipfile on the Mega.co.nz  website which contained 12 files that appear to be screengrabs of emails sent to and from Slater's gmail account.

The files include emails from political.animal101@gmail.com, which according to a screengrab - which appears to be of Slater's contact book - is from a Jason Ede.

Ede is the former staffer in John Key's office, believed to still have swipe card access to the Beehive, implicated in Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics as being an arm's length link to right wing blogs WhaleOil and Kiwiblog, used to attack opponents. The @whaledump Twitter account is thought to be the same as the source which Hager based his book on.

"The OIA would be to the Department, seeking "salary bands" including total remuneration packages for MFat staffers based overseas. Needs to include a request for a list of all staff allowances," an email from political.animal101 sent on March 6, 2008 states.

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Slater has denied getting OIA advice from Ede or even getting emails from him. Ede now works for the National Party.

"I don't think I've ever received an email from Jason Ede detailing OIA requests," Slater said last week.

"In fact, the Government put pressure on me - quite significant pressure from numerous senior people, including ministers - to withdraw my OIA request about the SIS and the Phil Goff situation because they felt that it was going to give them some pushback that they didn't want."

Another screengrab is of an email sent from Key's former chief press secretary Kevin Taylor to Slater.

In the email dated 28 May, 2008 Taylor responds to a request from Slater to do a video interview with Key for his blog.

Taylor declines, saying if they started engaging with blogs they would have to engage with them all. He added however that "FYI Jason Ede asked me to mention that he will be giving you a call in the next few days".

Most of the emails released today were alluded to in the new book by Hager, which was released last week, however the full text of the emails was not included.

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The book claims that National's strategy was to protect the friendly brand of John Key, while using right wing blogs as a vehicle to attack opponents.

In another series of emails, Ede forwards an email from his Parliamentary address to a hotmail address, nzedjed@hotmail.com.

This email address later emailed Slater offering "a hearty sigh of relief" for dynamic IP addresses. This quote was a key element of Hager's book relating to claims that Ede accessed parts of the Labour Party website which contained details of its donors.

The same email address then emails Slater calling for his support on a strategy to attack Labour if the opposition was to attack it on the cost of the Botany by-election in 2011, won by National's Jami-Lee Ross.

"If Labour go after Ross on the cost of a by-election - I do hope I can count on you to run some interference on Wood's local board position?" NZ Jed wrote on January 27 2011.

NZ Jed wrote they were "seeking advice" on whether the Labour candidate, a local board member, would force a by-election if elected and how much that would cost.

"If it sticks, Labour cannot run the cost argument," NZ Jed wrote.

Slater responds: "I have a strategy to smack Labour on that... I've run it before and will run it again."

The email also shows Slater was angry at National Party president Peter Goodfellow, saying "for now I need to get my mate elected, but I won't be forgetting anytime soon the actions of tonight".

The comment appears to related to Slater being shut out of a National Party meeting.

Hager said he had not seen the Twitter account and had not heard from his source about their intention to release the information.

"I am not certain who is behind [the account]... I think it is likely that this will be my source responding to the request that came to release the material."

Hager said he had spoken with his source at the weekend to try to get some of the information back in order to release it "and they said: 'Leave this to me'".

"It sounded like they were going to do something but I didn't have any more detail."

He welcomed the dump.

"I know that I faithfully, and as fairly as I could, reported in the book, but people can check that out for themselves if it does come out."

Hager also said he remained confident his source was not politically motivated.

Slater had earlier written on his blog that "this was always going to happen".

"My guess is hacker wants the attention[,] the credit and limelight but will be careful not to reveal their identity/employer."

Slater said it was "awfully convenient" that the people behind the Twitter account were aligning themselves with hackers collective Anonymous, WikiLeaks and Kim Dotcom's file-sharing website Mega.

This is going to get tense," Slater said.

"People with much more to lose than I do will now fall in behind me and others who don't break the law to hunt down everyone involved with this. Poor Nicky Hager. He's really been minced here."

Another email responded to Slater's WhaleOil request for information on November 15, 2011, on the owners of two motorbikes which were sighted after National Party billboards were defaced.

A man called Robert Ridley emailed saying one belonged to Jolyon White, which the screenshots show Slater forwarded to "Jason", and later posted on WhaleOil.

White was a partner of Green Party co-leader Russel Norman's executive assistant. The same day, Norman admitted vandalism of more than 700 National Party billboard was co-ordinated by White, but said it was not related to the Green Party.

Prime Minister John Key said he had not seen the emails and would not be seeking them out. 

He loosely linked the emails to Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom, saying it was "spooky" they had been released on Dotcom's file sharing site, Mega.co.nz.

Key repeated comments it was a 'left-wing conspiracy".

"You see a one-sided picture. There are lots of times where people have discussions about information. The mainstream media does that all the time."

Key dismissed questions on whether it was appropriate for staffer Jason Ede to advise Slater on how to word Official Information requests.

"No, that's one side of a version of events like a lot of things. And that's the problem actually, it's one of the reasons why a lot of the stories here are dissolving.

"Mr Hager himself through this whole process has now had to admit that readers got things wrong, there's been so many stories that have actually been contested and dissolved before his eyes.

"You've got a left-wing conspiracy and a whole bunch of people who are trying to discredit the Government," he said.

"I think New Zealanders will be far more interested frankly in urban cycleways than the back and forth of what [media] are talking about. 

"But at the end of the day let's just remember what's happening. This is a slanted, one-sided perspective of what's going on."

- Stuff

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