Laila Harre first hinted at problems when she alluded to "a special guest" who may or may not show up for The Moment of Truth.

People were expecting a video link with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, but technical difficulties had apparently placed large question marks around his participation.

Former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden and fellow fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange joined forces Monday to attack the New Zealand government, accusing it of mass surveillance on its people.

This only created a high sense of anticipation - perhaps even anxiety that the star attraction would be a no-show.

And then the huge blank screen at the Auckland Town Hall suddenly switched to reveal Edward Snowden, smiling, looking relaxed in a black shirt and dark blue jacket. There were cheers, whistles, foot-stomping, as the packed audience rose to its feet.

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And Snowden didn't disappoint. He was humbled by the crowd reaction - which was reportedly so large that people were turned away. He spoke at length and articulately about his own experience with New Zealanders' metadata while he was working at the US's National Security Agency.

Prime Minister John Key has challenged Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald to front up with evidence of their claims of mass surveillance and NSA bases in New Zealand. Mr Key responded this morning to Snowden's claims that New Zealanders' metadata was included in the XKeyscore data harvesting programme used by the US and that there were two NSA bases in New Zealand. Mr Key said neither had provided any actual evidence of their claims and said it was simply rhetoric.

He almost let too many secrets out. One way the NSA intercept communications is via internet cables, and another is ... "we'll leave it there". The NSA have facilities in Auckland, one in Northland ... and we better leave it there.

He spoke about high levels of surveillance. Emails, websites, Facebook friends, phone calls.

The war of words between Prime Minister John Key and US journalist Glenn Greenwald has escalated with Mr Key calling Greenwald a "loser" and Greenwald accusing Key of changing his story every day. Speaking to Mike Hosking at the Newstalk ZB Breakfast this morning, Mr Key said he would have more respect for Greenwald if he had timed his visit differently. Greenwald is in New Zealand to present evidence he claims shows the GCSB was involved in mass surveillance at Kim Dotcom's 'Moment of Truth' tonight.

Earlier, Glen Greenwald said he was amazed at the names that John Key had called him. Henchman. Loser.

It's not everyday you get to say that you will not sink to the level of the head of state, he mused. New Zealand should be proud of a leader who has "completely unburdened himself" of dignity or statesman-like behaviour.

Prime Minister John Key says it is possible US journalist Glenn Greenwald will produce claims New Zealand was spying on some of its trading partners. Mr Key has promised to declassify documents proving the GCSB had not engaged in mass surveillance if that was what Mr Greenwald claimed. He suspected the event would be "a sound and light show."

The crowd lapped it up. They stood and cheered. It was a reaction that was repeated throughout the night.

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