New Zealand?s GCSB accused of unlawful spying on millionaire
New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has been forced to apologise to millionaire Kim Dotcom for illegal surveillance carried out by the government’s spy agency.
The scandal broke 10 days ago when Key was made aware of the Government Communications Security Bureau’s surveillance of Dotcom prior to a police raid on the millionaire’s mansion. Dotcom and three other persons including co-accused Bram van der Kolk were arrested during the raid.
Both men, it transpired, were legal New Zealand residents, although the surveillance, raid and arrests were based on a police report accusing them of being illegal immigrants. At a press conference on Thursday, Keys labelled the incident appalling, and apologised to Dotcom and New Zealanders in general for the basic error.
Key added that the agency had let the country down by not checking the police report, adding that GCSB would need to take appropriate action once an investigation has been carried out. He confirmed that the contents of the police report had been taken as true, and not passed on to the FBI for checking, adding that he strongly doubted the information it contained would stand up in court.
The so-called confusion over the residential status of Dotcom and his co-accused had arisen after Dotcom gained residency whilst overseas by investing $NZ10 million in NZ government bonds. Before he took up residence late in 2010, the new Immigration Act came into force, with his resident class visa valid from that time.
It seems that NZ police were unable to recognise that a resident visa qualified for permanent residency under the GCSB Act, with Keys stating that their mistake was unacceptable. The GSCB director, Ian Fletcher, has also apologised to Dotcom, assuring him that the bureau will pursue all means possible to ensure public confidence in the agency is restored and the same mistake is not repeated.
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