Authorities in New Zealand ‘unlawfully’ wiretapped on Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload, who faces extradition to the United States on copyright charges, it has emerged.New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key opened an investigation into the incident, which he revealed on Monday.
Kim Dotcom, a flamboyant German national, faces charges of internet piracy and breaking copyright laws. The alleged copyright breaches are said to have cost the music and film industries more than $500 million.
The probe may deal another blow to the US case after a New Zealand court ruled in June that search warrants used in the raid on Dotcom’s home earlier this year, requested by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, were illegal.
Twitter: Kim Dotcom – I welcome the inquiry by @JohnKeyPM into unlawful acts by the GCSB. Please extend the inquiry to cover the entire Crown Law Mega case.
Key said he had asked the government’s Intelligence and Security division to investigate “circumstances of unlawful interception of communications of certain individuals by the Government Communications Security Bureau”, his office said.
It is not clear whether the “certain individuals” referred to Dotcom, his three colleagues also arrested and facing US charges, or all of them.
“The Bureau had acquired communications in some instances without statutory authority,” Key said in a statement.
“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,”
“Because this is also a matter for the High Court in its consideration of the Megaupload litigation, I am unable to comment further.”
Dotcom was arrested in January when New Zealand authorities swooped on his sprawling country estate near Auckland, confiscating computers and hard drives, works of art, and cars.
The FBI accuses 38-year old Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, of leading a group that netted $175 million since 2005 by copying and distributing music, films and other copyrighted content without authorisation.
“I welcome the inquiry by [Key] into unlawful acts by the GCSB,” Dotcom said on his Twitter account.
Dotcom maintains that the Megaupload site was no more than an online storage facility, and has accused Hollywood of lobbying the US government to vilify him.
The raid and evidence seizure has already been ruled illegal and a court has ruled that Dotcom should be allowed to see the evidence on which the extradition hearing will be based.
US authorities have appealed against that ruling, and a decision is pending.
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