Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Civil liberties are at stake: Dotcom lawyer

Dotcom counsel wants to know if US spy agencies also involved

Kim Dotcom speaks to the media outside the High Court at Auckland yesterday afternoon. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Kim Dotcom speaks to the media outside the High Court at Auckland yesterday afternoon. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Illegal spying on Kim Dotcom means the internet tycoon's battle against US attempts to extradite him has become a civil liberties issue of significance to all New Zealanders, his US lawyer Ira Rothken says.

Speaking to the Herald last night shortly before returning to California, Mr Rothken said the unlawful spying on Mr Dotcom by the GCSB had changed the complexion of the case against his client.

Mr Rothken said police were required to obtain warrants from courts before beginning surveillance, "there are no such checks and balances in spy agencies and that's why it's a civil liberties issue".

"It's one of those situations where it can lead to abuse when one does it on a resident and that's why the Prime Minister's supposed to be the check and balance on it. He didn't provide sufficient oversight and that's why we're at this point."

He said the case now had two layers. "Mr Dotcom is fighting for his rights and he's fighting for the rights of all New Zealand residents to be free from domestic spying."

Mr Key's acknowledgment this week that the GCSB had unlawfully spied on Mr Dotcom placed the US bid to extradite his client in jeopardy.

"If there is a certain degree of illegal conduct by the Government in the manner and method in which they go about arresting and prosecuting the case, it could get to the point where the case ought to be dismissed in the interests of justice."

Mr Rothken said his team would now press for full disclosure of the GCSB's involvement and that of any US spy agency.

"We believe they should hand over everything related to the type of domestic spying they were doing on Kim Dotcom and others in this case - not just what they gave to the police."

"Not only do we want to get disclosure of any communications between New Zealand spying authorities and the New Zealand police but we want to get communications between New Zealand spying authorities and US spying authorities if it relates to a resident of New Zealand.

Mr Rothken said his team also wanted to know whether Echelon, the US system of global electronic eavesdropping which the GCSB feeds into through its Waihopai and Tangimoana facilities, was involved.

- NZ Herald

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