David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Dotcom can pursue case against police, GCSB

Kim Dotcom. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Kim Dotcom. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Details of the top secret international spy agency ring known as Echelon will have to be produced after a new judgment in the Kim Dotcom case.

The internet tycoon was also cleared to pursue a case for damages against the police and the Government Communications Security Bureau in a judgment which has opened the Government's handling of the criminal copyright case for its harshest criticism yet.

The order for the GCSB to reveal top secret details came as the High Court at Auckland ruled the spy agency would now sit alongside the police in a case probing the unlawful search warrant used in the raid on Dotcom's north Auckland mansion.

Chief high court judge Helen Winkelmann said the GCSB would have to "confirm all entities" to which it gave information sourced through its illegal interception of Dotcom's communications.

She said her order included "members of Echelon/Five Eyes, including any United States authority". The Echelon network is an international intelligence network to which New Zealand and the United States are members, along with Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The judgment also recorded Dotcom's suspicions he had been spied on at least six weeks before the GCSB admitted to doing so, and sought details as to whether others had been swept up in the illegal operation.

The Crown had raised concerns about "secrecy", saying revealing the information could "compromise New Zealand's national security interests".

Justice Winkelmann said the concerns - which included revealing how the GCSB worked with "intelligence allies"- could be managed through the appointment of Stuart Grieve QC. Mr Grieve was appointed by the court to view top secret information and judge its relevance to the case.

The judgment also raised questions about evidence given by Detective Inspector Grant Wormald, the officer who commanded the raid on the mansion. It said evidence he had given about possible "live footage" of the raid "contradicted" earlier evidence given during the hearing.

The police were ordered to provide evidence from a senior New Zealand officer in the US who told an internal publication he "monitored" the raid from FBI headquarters.

Mr Wormald is also facing questions about other testimony after he assured the court there was no surveillance other than that carried out by police. The GCSB's illegal spying operation later emerged.

- NZ Herald

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