David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Dotcom case: Minister's claims 'defy belief'

Kim Dotcom, during the official announcement of Laila Harre's leadership of the fledgling Internet Party. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Kim Dotcom, during the official announcement of Laila Harre's leadership of the fledgling Internet Party. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The minister who oversaw the granting of Kim Dotcom's residency is stretching credibility over explanations as to how the internet tycoon got into New Zealand, says Labour's Grant Robertson.

Mr Robertson said it would be "incredible" if Immigration NZ officials didn't tell Dr Coleman the FBI was after Dotcom after being urged by the SIS to do so.

Mr Robertson, who is Labour's Security Intelligence Service associate spokesman, said emails released to the Herald showed the SIS were explicit in asking Immigration NZ to tell their minister about the FBI's interest before residency was granted.

He said the emails also showed Immigration NZ was urged to contact NZ Police for more information about Dotcom, which it now says it never did.

"My concern is the SIS were adamant this (FBI interest) was a significant factor Immigration NZ needed to keep in mind. You would have to suspend belief to think officials would not do what they were asked to do by the SIS.

It defies belief."

Immigration NZ was tonight seeking information after questions from the Herald over whether it had told Dr Coleman of the FBI interest.

Dr Coleman was briefed on Dotcom the day before Immigration NZ decided to grant residency but says ministers had no knowledge of any actual or pending FBI-police investigation.

He was also briefed about Dotcom in September 2010 and again in December 2010, January 2011 and February 2011. The Immigration NZ "special direction"document, which balanced considerations for granting residency, contains no reference to the FBI interest, and neither do the briefings to Dr Coleman. The latter briefings contain a number of deletions, citing international relations and maintenance of the law.

Dr Coleman said he was "not going to hang out the officials to dry on this". "In retrospect if people had a lot of the information they had now I don't think he would have been let in."

Asked if Dotcom was good to have in New Zealand, Dr Coleman refused to comment.

The January 2012 FBI-inspired arrest of Dotcom on charges of criminal copyright violation has left a trail of carnage in its wake. There have been accusations police over-reached with a helicopter raid at dawn on the Coatesville mansion, using its specialist anti-terrorist squad for the arrest, with the illegal support of the nation's externally-focused GCSB spy agency.

The court cases which have followed have led to the Crown Law Office devoting 20,000 hours of legal time while Dotcom has gone on to launch a political party to contest this year's election.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the SIS said a comment emails released under the OIA which referred to briefing the "CEO" referred to Immigration NZ's chief executive Nigel Bickle, not the SIS director Dr Warren Tucker.

- NZ Herald

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