David Fisher

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Crown Law denies it knew of Dotcom spying

Dotcom's lawyers have asked the High Court to include the GCSB as a co-defendant in the case probing the illegal search and seizure during the raid. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Dotcom's lawyers have asked the High Court to include the GCSB as a co-defendant in the case probing the illegal search and seizure during the raid. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Planning for the illegal spying mission on Kim Dotcom happened out of earshot of the Government's legal advisers, the Crown Law Office says.

The office - which participated in every publicly declared meeting leading up to the raid - has distanced itself from knowledge of the GCSB's involvement.

Police are investigating the month-long spying on Dotcom which broke laws designed to protect New Zealand residents and citizens from intrusion by the Government Communications Security Bureau.

The Crown Law Office says it had no idea why GCSB representatives were at planning meetings before the January raid.

Spokeswoman Jan Fulstow said there was no discussion about "spying nor any other activity involving GCSB" at meetings at which its staff were present.

"Crown Law had no knowledge of the reason for GCSB's presence at the meeting nor of any prospective or potential involvement of GCSB."

She said Crown Law Office staff made no connection between the GCSB and any issues which might arise in spying on New Zealand residents.

The case also involved people from other countries, who would have been legitimate targets of the GCSB.

The dates of the pivotal meetings and the attendance at those meetings is revealed in documents released by the High Court at Auckland.

Careful note-taking by the police officer who led the operation, Detective Inspector Grant Wormald, shows planning and progress toward the January 20 raid, in which Dotcom and three associates were arrested and charged with criminal copyright violation.

Staff from the Crown Law Office, including on one occasion Deputy Solicitor-General Cameron Mander, were present at each of the meetings listed in the notes released.

But the notebook also contains blacked out sections, which led to the uncovering in court of a secret government agency at the planning meetings.

It was later revealed to be the GCSB when Prime Minister John Key apologised to Dotcom because it was illegal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealand residents or citizens.

The court file shows no sign of any other planning meetings, raising the question as to when and how the operation to spy on Dotcom was planned.

Dotcom's lawyers have asked the High Court to include the GCSB as a co-defendant in the case probing the illegal search and seizure during the raid.

All you need to know about Kim Dotcom

Who is Kim Dotcom?
The wealthy founder of one of the world's most popular websites Megaupload.com. He was arrested in January in an FBI operation against internet piracy.

Why is Kim Dotcom still here?
The extradition case against him has been delayed by a year after a succession of court rulings in Dotcom's favour. Several separate legal actions are in progress, mainly challenging the way the Government executed the FBI's request for New Zealand to arrest and extradite him to the US.

Why are we helping the United States?
New Zealand has agreements to assist many countries - and they also help us. It is considered part of being a good international neighbour.

John Key says the only person who cares about Dotcom is Dotcom - so why does it matter?
Opposition politicians have spoken of the need for the agencies involved to be above reproach in the way they act with anyone. The Crown Law Office got the wrong sort of restraining order, the police search and seizure was deemed illegal and the GCSB spied illegally.

Is Dotcom a criminal?
The FBI says he is. He says he is not. The Prime Minister says he should go to the US and face charges if he has nothing to hide. Dotcom has said he will, if the US can assure him he can wait on bail for trial.

- NZ Herald

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