A New Zealand Herald journalist received information about internet tycoon Kim Dotcom from a Government security agency which was not given to the Mega founder when he applied for the information himself, a court heard today.
Dotcom's lawyers were back in court today for a judicial review on the release of documents held on him by Government agencies, specifically those relating to the granting of his permanent residency in 2010.
In the High Court at Auckland, Dotcom's lawyers argued he should have full access to all the information held on him by New Zealand authorities in order to properly fight his extradition to the US, where he is wanted on piracy and copyright charges in relation to his now-defunct file sharing website MegaUpload.
Some documents have been released to Dotcom under the Official Information Act (OIA) and the Privacy Act. However, many were heavily redacted while others were wholly withheld, counsel for Dotcom Paul Davison QC said.
He wants the court to order a review of the files requested by Dotcom, in which an independent adjudicator with national security clearance would decide whether the files were legitimately redacted and withheld.
If it could be shown there had been "an over-generous use or inappropriate use of the grounds for withholding" information from Dotcom, then the court "would need to satisfy itself" that inappropriate redaction hadn't been applied to all documents requested, he argued.
He referred to Security Intelligence Service (SIS) emails which had been heavily redacted when Dotcom first requested them through the OIA, but were later disclosed to him after being released to Herald journalist David Fisher, also under an OIA request.
"The 'political pressure' emails were not disclosed [to Dotcom] ... on the grounds of security," he said, referring to emails from SIS claiming Immigration New Zealand was coming under political pressure to grant Dotcom residency.
"They were only provided after the SIS had provided those emails to David Fisher of the New Zealand Herald, and it was only then they decided that Dotcom should get them as well."
Dotcom and his legal team have requested documents from the SIS, Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), Immigration, the Justice Minister, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Corrections, Customs and police.
The then Justice Minister Judith Collins had withheld 41 of 60 requested documents, Mr Davison said.
Mr Davison also questioned Immigration authorities redacting information in its assessment of Dotcom's residency application.
"One hesitates to say it, but how can it possibly be legitimate to redact information relevant to the assessment of this? It was either an assessment which ought to be transparent, at least in the current context, or not. There doesn't seem to be reason for gaps all the way through it."
Dotcom, who was not in court for the hearing, argues that Immigration granted him permanent residency despite his previous convictions and despite the SIS informing it of a possible FBI investigation.
The internet Party founder says this was part of a ploy by US authorities to keep him in New Zealand in order to monitor his activities and later extradite him when charges were filed against him.
The hearing in front of Justice Simon France continues tomorrow when counsel for the US will outline its case.