Prime Minister of New Zealand apologizes to Kim Dotcom for letting spy agency wiretap him

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key issued an official apology to Kim Dotcom for illegal spying conducted by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) -- the NZ equivalent to the CIA, which is prohibited from engaging in domestic spying. Nevertheless, GCSB conducted a program of surveillance against Dotcom and his associates as part of the US-led shutdown of Megaupload, Dotcom's file-locker service, which had angered the US entertainment industry.

The GCSB reports to the Prime Minister's office, so it's not clear how this surveillance could have gone on without the oversight of Key or his staff. Paul Neazor, Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security for New Zealand, reported on the illegal spying, explaining that it took place because the GCSB mistakenly believed that Dotcom did not have permanent residency in New Zealand, making him fair game for surveillance (visitors to New Zealand, take note).

However, as a Computerworld NZ article shows, the "Blue Folder" prepared by NZ police's anti-terrorist Special Tactics Group for the intelligence service shows, Dotcom's residency status was clearly set out. Also, Dotcom set off $500,000 worth of fireworks when he was awarded residency.

Neazor found that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB), which by law can only conduct action against foreign targets, failed to check Dotcom’s immigration status. If they had done so they would have discovered he hold’s a permanent resident’s visa.

“The GCSB relied on information provided to it by the Organized and Financial Crime Agency. In my view, reliance on another party by GCSB is unacceptable,” 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.”

Here's a video of the PM explaining himself.

New Zealand Prime Minister Apologizes To Kim Dotcom

See also: New Zealand's spies illegally bugged Kim Dotcom, complicity may go all the way to the prime minister's office



  1. Mr. Key, you are the one responsible for that department, please, how about taking responsibility?

    However, I am equally interested in the Stateside happenings leading to this. Copyright consortiums with the power to get the States to ask for extradition, then to get the US to persuade our government to spy on its own citizens – that is quite a reach.

    1. Right, what a non-apology apology.  Not “I’m sorry for violating your rights” but rather “I’m sorry these crummy LAWS popped up while we were violating your rights, we should have known about those dumb laws.”

  2. The problem is not whether they were unaware that Kim Dotcom had residency but whether the type of residency that he had conferred him with immunity to GCSB surveillance.  When he was granted residency, he did not have the immunity but within a month, a law change kicked in giving him that immunity.  GCSB wrongly believed that he was still eligible for surveillance and that’s what caused the trainwreck.

  3. The US did not persuade the government to spy on its own citizens – Kim Dotcom isn’t a citizen.  He was spied on by the GCSB at the request of the police in order to track the location of Dotcom and others.  There’s an interesting question about whether the police should be even asking GCSB to do this as opposed to using their own legal powers.

  4. So, as restitution for this egregious violation of his civil liberties, the New Zealand government can intervene and have all the charges dropped, refuse the extradition order from the US, and return all of his seized assets, with a full apology, and Kim, in turn, will agree not to sue the government or call for the resignation and prosecution of the Prime Minister and the agency personnel who carried this out on his behalf.  Right?  

        1. Agreed. Though I often find it difficult to tell where decisions motivated by extensive and expensive lobbying stop and those motivated by actual policy begin. There’s such a thing as being too cynical, I suppose.

    1.  The GCSB actions weren’t directly related to the copyright charges per se – i.e. they weren’t collecting evidence about copyright infringement or conspiracy. Their actions were to identify who was where, and at what time, to assist in the raid on his mansion in Coatesville. So on that basis, the original charges couldn’t be thrown out.

      But yeah, I’d still like to see the charges dropped, mainly because they’re ludicrously over-blown, without merit and because the NZ government is acting like a bunch of lickspittle toadies to the US entertainment industry.

  5. “The GCSB relied on information provided to it by the Organized and Financial Crime Agency. In my view, reliance on another party by GCSB is unacceptable,”

    “You fucked up. You trusted the police.”

  6. As a New Zealander I can fully understand how this type of mistake can happen. Our Fuhrer was in all likelihood very busy that day polishing the ‘Junior G Man’ badge he was presented by the FBI to pursue Mr Dotcom and prevent his bid for world domination. As for the half million dollar fireworks display those are common accurances in New Zealand. Aren’t they everywhere?

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