Hager vows to protect hacker's ID

BEN HEATHER AND TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 18:43 07/10/2014
NICKY HAGER: Speaking to journalism students at Wintec.
Nick Reed
NICKY HAGER: Expects legal pressure to reveal his source.

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Investigative journalist Nicky Hager says he will go to prison rather than reveal the identity of the hacker source for his Dirty Politics book, following a police raid on his home.

Hager revealed yesterday five police officers raided his Wellington home last Thursday while he was in Auckland, taking computers, drives, phones, CDs, an iPod and a camera.

He told the Dominion Post he is anticipating a legal fight over access to the material.

The source provided Hager with emails, Facebook posts and other material for Dirty Politics, hacked from Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater's computer.

The book alleged links between Prime Minister John Key's office, National politicians and party-linked figures, and Slater.

During the election leadup, the hacker "Rawshark" leaked more material on Twitter.

In a statement, police confirmed they had "removed computers and related items under search warrant from a Wellington address as part of [an] ongoing investigation into alleged hacking of Mr [Cameron] Slater's emails".

The evening they defended the 10 hours it took to carry out the search, saying it was because they respected his claim to journalistic privilege.

Opposition parties have questioned the length of the search, with Labour’s acting leader David Parker labelling it "harrowing". 

In a statement today, Police said the time taken to search Hager's home was due to police respecting his claim of privilege.

"This necessitated a process where all items had to be catalogued, secured, sealed and countersigned by both police and Mr Hager's lawyer prior to them being removed from the address.

"The exhibits were delivered into the custody of the Auckland High Court pending determination of the privilege claim. As the matter is now before the courts Police is unable to comment further."

Hager told the Dominion Post he is anticipating a legal fight over access to the material.

The source provided Hager with emails, Facebook posts and other material for Dirty Politics.

During the election leadup, the hacker "Rawshark" leaked more material on Twitter.

Hager said he expected legal pressure to reveal his source.

"But there is no way I will ever co-operate."

Asked if he would be willing to go to prison rather than give up, he said: "It's very unlikely, but if I had to, of course I would."

Hager also questioned why five officers were used to search his house for 10 hours when he said he had been told he was a witness, not a suspect.

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"It seems like a very strange level of resources just for a witness."

Similar raids had not been made in response to a police complaint by the Greens into hacking on the Labour Party's website allegedly involving National Party staffer Jason Ede, as detailed in Dirty Politics, he claimed. "That is a real crime."

Hager told Radio New Zealand that he accepted the police had the right to be at his home, but he was critical of the "rather draconian" Search and Surveillance Bill passed in 2012 that allowed the raid.

Slater said he welcomed the investigation into his allegedly stolen emails.

"The police are doing their job and I'm pleased to see they are pursuing the matter with such vigour."

- The Dominion Post

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