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New Zealand officials snooped on MegaUpload execs without authority

By | Published on Monday 24 September 2012


New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau “acted unlawfully” in gathering communications between associates of the MegaUpload company, the country’s Prime Minister has admitted.

PM John Key has now launched an inquiry into the actions of the GCSB, who seemingly helped New Zealand police locate certain individuals connected to MegaUpload after US authorities requested they be arrested at the start of the year.

As much previously reported, America is trying to extradite MegaUpload founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz and three other former Mega execs from New Zealand to face charges of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering in connection with their file-transfer and video-sharing services.

But, Key has admitted, it seems that some of the spying on Mega execs undertaken by GCSB was done so without the necessary “statutory authority”. The PM added: “I expect our intelligence agencies to operate always within the law. Their operations depend on public trust. I look forward to the Inspector-General’s inquiry getting to the heart of what took place and what can be done about it”.

While it’s not clear what impact the inquiry into the unauthorised snooping will have on America’s attempts to extradite Dotcom et al, it’s the latest in a number of embarrassments linked to the MegaUpload case in New Zealand. Previously it emerged that police had the wrong kind of warrant when they raided Dotcom’s home, and that the US broke rules by taking digital evidence collated in New Zealand back to the States.

Dotcom himself welcomed Key’s inquiry, tweeting: “The NZ equivalent of the CIA has spied on me UNLAWFULLY. I welcome the inquiry by @JohnKeyPM into unlawful acts by the GCSB. Please extend the inquiry to cover the entire Crown Law Mega case”.