Judge orders New Zealand spy agency to disclose international links in U.S. extradition case
WELLINGTON, Dec 06, 2012 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
A German millionaire wanted by
U. S. authorities for alleged Internet piracy has been given leave
to sue the New Zealand Police and one of New Zealand's government
spy agencies for their roles in helping the United States
Kim Dotcom, the Internet millionaire who headed the Megaupload
file-sharing site, persuaded New Zealand's High Court that he had
a right to take legal action against the Government Communications
Security Bureau (GCSB) foreign intelligence gathering agency,
which illegally intercepted his communications before police
raided his home in January.
A judgment issued by New Zealand's Chief High Court Judge Helen
Winkelmann Thursday also ordered the GCSB to disclose materials
relevant to the case that it shared with the international
security network Echelon, also known as "Five Eyes."
Echelon is an intelligence sharing network operated by agencies
in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the
The judgment said that Dotcom and three fellow Megaupload
executives wanted by the U.S. were seeking, in particular,
confirmation "of whether any such information was shared with
other members of Echelon/'Five Eyes', including any United States
The GCSB had argued "that disclosure of those communications
will prejudice New Zealand's national security interests as it
will tend to reveal intelligence gathering and sharing methods."
However, the judgment said, "The use made of illegally obtained
information is something which bears upon both the extent of
illegality and the question of damages."
Winkelmann had previously determined that aspects of the New
Zealand Police search and seizure of Dotcom's property in January
After a later hearing into Dotcom's claim that the seizure of
his rented Auckland mansion was unreasonable and illegal and
carried out with excessive force, it was revealed that the GCSB
had been illegally intercepting Dotcom's communications on behalf
of the police.
Under New Zealand law, the GCSB is prohibited from intercepting
the communications of New Zealand citizens and permanent
residents, and Dotcom was a legal resident at the time.
Dotcom's lawyer, Paul Davison, told Radio New Zealand the
amount of damages Dotcom would seek was not quantifiable at this
stage, but he hoped the claim could be heard in court in the first
half of next year.
The revelation of the GCSB's illegal spying has shaken the top
levels of New Zealand's government, in which Prime Minister John
Key is also Minister Responsible for the GCSB.
Key said in October that a review of GCSB files had cleared him
off any involvement as they proved the GCSB had not briefed him on
its illegal interception of the communications.
GCSB director Ian Fletcher had only advised Key of the illegal
spying on Sept. 17, Key said in a statement.
In September, the GCSB suspended operations with the country's
law enforcement agencies until new approval processes were
The U.S. extradition case against Dotcom, originally scheduled
for August, has been delayed until March next year after becoming
entangled in legal arguments, appeals and critical judgments.
In June, a New Zealand judge ruled that the country's police
acted unlawfully in allowing the U.S. Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) to copy computer data seized from Dotcom and
remove it from the country, and that the warrants used by police
to raid Dotcom's Auckland home and to seize property on behalf of
the FBI were illegal.
Other points of legal contention revolve around how much
evidence, including more than 22 million e-mails, the New Zealand
prosecutors acting on behalf of the U.S. authorities are required
to disclose to Dotcom's legal team.
In March, the U.S. Department of Justice formally lodged an
application for the extradition of Dotcom and the other Megaupload
executives from New Zealand on charges related to Internet piracy.
Although the United States and New Zealand have an extradition
treaty, New Zealand courts could refuse to hand over Dotcom and
his co-accused, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn
New Zealand Police arrested Dotcom in Auckland on Jan. 20 at
the request of the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI on charges
including copyright infringement, wire fraud, money laundering and
Dotcom spent a month in prison before being allowed bail to
live with his heavily pregnant wife and three children.
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