Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

GCSB spying illegal, but no charges laid

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman. File photo / APN
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman. File photo / APN

The Government's spy agency got away with breaking the law with the police decision not to prosecute anyone over illegally spying on New Zealand residents, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says.

Police today released their decision following an investigation into Dr Norman's complaint into the Government Communications Security Bureau's (GCSB) illegal interception of the communications of New Zealanders.

The police found that Kim Dotcom and his associate Bram van der Kolk were illegally spied on, but as GCSB staff did not act with criminal intent, no one would be held accountable.

Read the letter sent by police to Dr Norman here

Dr Norman also slammed police over his complaint about the illegal interception of the communications of the other 85 New Zealanders, identified in the report into the GCSB undertaken by Rebecca Kitteridge.

"They've decided that the secret report by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is sufficient and they don't even need to do their own investigation into that unlawful spying.''

Detective Superintendent Peter Read said today that while there was one occasion of illegal activity under the Crimes Act, there was not the element of criminal intent needed to show the GCSB was were criminally liable.

But Dr Norman said the section of the Crimes Act they were working under only stated a crime had happened if there was intent, not criminal intent.

"I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me they intended to make the interception, they did make the interception, it was illegal.''

Mr Read said while there was no criminal liability by the GCSB, police did identify a number of shortcomings'' in the handling of the interception requests, including the GCSB had an incorrect understanding of the Immigration Act 2009 and how it related to the GCSB Act.

"GCSB staff also did not follow their own internal processes in actioning the Ofcanz requests.''

The police investigation had been reviewed by senior barrister Kristy McDonald QC for "independent oversight:, Mr Read said.

However, Dr Norman said it was a conflict of interest to use Ms McDonald for the review.

"That QC is actually working for police in the case against Kim Dotcom.''

Labour's deputy leader Grant Robertson said the police decision not to prosecute anyone over the illegal spying on Dotcom meant that "once again no one is being held accountable for the failings of our spy agencies''.

"The police investigation has confirmed that the GCSB broke the law when it intercepted one of Kim Dotcom's communications. But because there is no evidence there was any intention to act illegally, the matter will not be pursued.''

Last week the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill passed into law.

Prime Minister and Minister Responsible for GCSB John Key said the bill made it clear what the GCSB could and could not do.

- APNZ

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