Hager's relationship with hacker revealed

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 12:11 30/08/2014
Nicky Hager in conversation at WORD festival
STACY SQUIRES / Fairfax NZ

SOLD OUT: Nicky Hager in conversation with The Press editor Joanna Norris as part of Christchurch's WORD festival.

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Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager today revealed Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater was hacked because the hacker ‘‘thought he was a p****’’. 

A packed room at the WORD Christchurch festival was silent as Hager described secretly meeting the hacker and Dirty Politics source in public parks, convincing him not to release his information over Twitter. 

Hager was one of three panelists at the festival’s Secrets, Spies and Free Speech public discussion this morning, chaired by The Press editor Joanna Norris. 

Unsurprisingly, the event sold out. 

Dirty Politics, a book including information gathered from emails hacked from Slater, was released this month and made revelations about a number of powerful politicians and parties. 

Hager, alongside Guardian journalist Luke Harding and Australian journalist Richard King, today discussed freedom of speech in Western democracies. 

But it was Hager’s discussion of his new book which captivated the audience.

He described tracking down the hacker who attacked Slater’s IT system and spending weeks convincing him to share his information. 

Hager promised he would ensure the information release was ‘‘something more lasting and of bigger value’’ than the hacker’s planned Twitter dump. 

He said knowing the source of information and their motives for releasing it was essential. 

‘‘I know him [the hacker] well now, and I trust him,’’ he said. ‘‘His motivation was that Cameron Slater was a bastard and we’ll do him over.’’

‘‘The reason he attacked him was he thought he was a p****.’’

He condemned those who released large volumes of information without a genuine public interest defence and with no thought of the collateral damage, but defended his own decision to release information contained in hacked emails. 

He said he spent significant time trawling through the hacked material. While there was a significant amount of ‘‘juicy’’ information, he decided to only release what was in the public interest. 

‘‘Leaks are bad,’’ he said. ‘‘You have to have a high public interest to justify what you release.’’ 

Leaks like his, considered and redacted where necessary, were an essential part of society, he said. 

‘‘It had a reaction far beyond what I expected. I think the reason for that is we had a government that was faking — faking its public image.’’ 

Hager said the ‘‘friendly, relaxed, she’ll be right’’ government image did not gel with the information he was sorting through, which he claimed included evidence of political smear campaigns and concealed attacked on political opponent.


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