Mr Key says the Crown has filed a memorandum in the High Court in the Kim Dotcom Megaupload case, advising the Court and affected parties that the GCSB had acted unlawfully while assisting the police to locate Kim Dotcom and others in the case, and that it had acquired communications in some instances without statutory authority.
After being informed about the matter by the Director of the GCSB last week, the Prime Minister referred the GCSB’s actions to the Inspector-General Paul Neazor. The Inspector-General is an independent statutory officer with the power to enquire into any matter related to a government intelligence agency’s compliance with the law.
Mr Key says he has also asked the Inspector-General to recommend any measures he considered necessary to prevent the issue from happening again. He expressed his disappointment that unlawful acts had taken place.
“I expect our intelligence agencies to operate always within the law. Their operations depend on public trust “I look forward to the Inspector-General’s inquiry getting to the heart of what took place and what can be done about it,” said the Prime Minister.
The inquiry is the latest development in what has become a long running saga involving New Zealand US authorities, including the FBI, and which has major ramifications for file sharing and file hosting sites worldwide.
Megaupload was a file hosting site established by German Kim Dotcom (original name Kim Schmitz) and shit down by the US Government’s Department of Justice in January 2012. Over 80 New Zealand police raided Dotcom’s mansion near Auckland shortly after the Department’s actions, leading to many questions about the degree of cooperation between the New Zealand and US governments.
Since the raid Dotcom, who is a legal resident of New Zealand, has won a number of court battles, including the return of many of his seized assets, a ruling that the search warrants used in the raid were invalid, and a statement by a US judge that Megaupload had not been properly charged. Dotcom has now taken to Twitter to welcome the inquiry:
“I welcome the inquiry by @johnkeypm into unlawful acts by the GCSB. Please extend the inquiry to cover the entire Crown Law Mega case. I’m now a real life James Bond villain in a real life political copyright thriller scripted by Hollywood & the White House.”
The Prime Minister says he did not sign off any warrants for the covert surveillance of Dotcom, as the GCSB does not need one for foreign nationals.
Radio NZ reports Ira Rothken, a lawyer for Kim Dotcom, as saying says he is “deeply concerned about the revelations of illegal spying. It's not the kind of behaviour I would have expected in New Zealand which has a culture of protecting its citizens' rights”.
The NZ opposition Labour Party says the illegal activity will tarnish New Zealand's international reputation. “New Zealand is seen as one of the cleanest countries in the world, and this strikes at the heart of the way it will be viewed internationally.”