NZ Prime Minister Apologizes to Kim Dotcom
In a media conference after the release of the report into unlawful monitoring of Mr Dotcom and an acquaintance, Mr Key said he was "appalled" at the agency, saying it had "failed at the most basic of hurdles." "Of course I apologise to Mr Dotcom, and I apologise to New Zealanders."
He said New Zealanders were entitled to be protected by the law "and we failed to provide that protection to them."
The report referred to is that of Paul Neazor, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security for New Zealand, responding to the Prime Minister's request for an explanation of the illegal interception of Kim Dotcom's communications. The report is here. [More...]
The interceptions, by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) were directed to Kim Dotcom's and his co-defendants' whereabouts. They were conducted as part of New Zealand's assistance to the U.S. in its efforts to have Dotcom arrested.
A specialist group of New Zealand Police Officers has been involved in assisting the United States authorities and investigating a couple of related New Zealand matters. As part of the New Zealand Police assistance, communications passed between the Police group and GCSB. Those
communications were related to a proposal to arrest Kim Dotcom and associated persons.
It was believed by Police Officers that these persons could present potential danger to officers and others involved if the attempted arrest was made. With that belief it was important for the Police to know what action Dotcom and associated people might plan to take and where; i.e. they sought intelligence about possible events.
The documents show that information was collected about Dotcom and his associates by the Bureau (largely about their movements or possible movements at relevant times) and passed on to the Police. In my view, considered on its own, the passing on as such could have been lawful but the collection in the circumstances was not.
The documents I have seen which record the events do not disclose any interest or inquiry by GCSB about the facts or events of Dotcom's disputed activity; just where he might be and who might be with him.
In the conclusion, the Inspector General writes:
In this case it was recognised that Dotcom was not a New Zealand citizen. He was classed as the holder of a residence class visa in a particular category but it was not apparent to the Police or GCSB that he thereby fell into a protected category. Because he should have been regarded as in such a category, collection was not allowed under the GCSB Act and in that way illegal.
Kim Dotcom's U.S. attorney, Ira Rothken, tweets:
The Neazor report regarding @KimDotcom raises more questions than it answers we look forward to the judicial process.
Kim Dotcom has accepted the Prime Minister's apology.
"I accept your apology. Show your sincerity by supporting a full, transparent & independent inquiry into the entire Mega case."
A few minutes later, Dotcom tweeted:
@JohnKeyPM, show the world that your government is not an American dancing bear & that fairness & due process matter in New Zealand.
The Prime Minister had strong criticism for the GCSB:
GCSB had a responsibility to fully understand what the change to the immigration legislation in 2009 meant for its own operations, including whether individual visa holders were protected or not,'' Key said.
"It is the GCSB's responsibility to act within the law, and it is hugely disappointing that in this case its actions fell outside the law. I am personally very disappointed that the agency failed to fully understand the workings of its own legislation."
The GCSB has in turn apologized to Prime Minister Key. Here is Fletcher's letter.
“I am very sorry for the way the Bureau has handled its part in the Dotcom case. I have apologized on behalf of the Bureau to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister’s own statement has made clear his views.”
“We got this wrong. Both factual errors and unacceptable errors of legal interpretation were compounded, most especially by our treating those interpretations as fact for too long. It should not have happened.”
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