Prime Minister requests inquiry into Megaupload raid

UPDATED with reaction to inquiry; Inspector-general of Intelligence and Security asked to look into actions of security bureau

Updated 3.20pm

Kim Dotcom's US lawyer says it's too early to say if an investigation into "unlawful" actions by government spies will halt his case, reports Speaking from the US, Ira Rothken said Dotcom's legal team will await the outcome of the inquiry and did not want to ''pre-judge'' it. The investigation will deal with ''whether or not the intelligence agency broke the law by essentially spying on folks domestically'', Rothken said. ''It all depends on what the results are and what the prime minister does ... obviously we'd be interested to know if the United States was involved...we'll await the results. He was unable to say what communications were intercepted. The inquiry's announcement comes just two days before Dotcom's case is again due in the High Court in Auckland. Justice Helen Winkelmann has directed a hearing be called on Wednesday to discuss the search warrants issued for the January raids on Dotcom's Auckland mansion. Fairfax Media understands the memo filed by the Crown about the GCSB relates to that hearing - not to either the extradition case or the disclosure hearing held in the Court of Appeal last week.

Updated 2pm:

Rick Shera, a partner at ICT-specialist law firm Lowndes Jordan, says there was likely already an investigation into the GCSB’s conduct which would be sent to John Key as the minister responsible for the GCSB .

Shera says that without a copy of the memorandum filed it would be difficult to make assumptions about how this will affect Dotcom’s extradition case, and to what extent the the Crown could continue using evidence gained as a result of the interception.

Shera says he is disappointed that the proper procedures may not have been followed by the government agency.

“Mistakes happen but this was a high profile case. The I’s should have been dotted, and the T’s should have been crossed,” says Shera.

Meanwhile TechLiberty points out that under the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003, the GCSB is not allowed to intercept the communications of New Zealand residents or citizens. Kim Dotcom was granted residency in November 2010.

The Act states: “Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.”

Following the announcement, Kim Dotcom tweeted:

Original story

Prime Minister John Key has announced that the Inspector-General of Intelligence has been asked to look into whether the Government Communications Security Bureau acted unlawfully in the Megaupload case.

Here is the full press release, issued by Key's office at 1.05pm today.

Prime Minister John Key today announced he has requested an inquiry by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security into the circumstances of unlawful interception of communications of certain individuals by the Government Communications Security Bureau.

Mr Key says the Crown has filed a memorandum in the High Court in the Megaupload case advising the Court and affected parties that the GCSB had acted unlawfully while assisting the Police to locate certain individuals subject to arrest warrants issued in the case. The Bureau had acquired communications in some instances without statutory authority.

After being informed about the matter by the Director of the GCSB on September 17, the Prime Minister referred the Bureau’s actions to the Inspector-General, Hon Paul Neazor. The Inspector-General is an independent statutory officer with the power to enquire into any matter related to a government intelligence agency’s compliance with the law.

Mr Key says he has also asked the Inspector-General to recommend any measures he considered necessary to prevent the issue from happening again.

Mr Key expressed his disappointment that unlawful acts had taken place.

“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,” says Mr Key. “Because this is also a matter for the High Court in its consideration of the Megaupload litigation, I am unable to comment further.”

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