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13 Sep, 2013 17:06

Doctom to sue NZ govt for $6mn over SWAT-style arrest, illegal spying

Doctom to sue NZ govt for $6mn over SWAT-style arrest, illegal spying

Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom has filed a $6.9 million (NZ$8.55 million) lawsuit against the New Zealand police and spy agency over the 2012 “over-aggressive and invasive” raid on his mansion and the spying that preceded it, NZ media reveal.

Dotcom has followed through on a threat he first made last year to sue the police and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), for a raid on his house in which the founder of Megaupload website and one of his associates Junelyn van der Kolk were arrested a year and a half ago. 

Court documents of Dotcom’s claim that were filed in April and May but only made public earlier this week by the New Zealand Herald make plain that the police were excessively aggressive and invasive in carrying out the raid. Dotcom’s defense team also alleges that they put him under surveillance before the raid.

The documents describe the arrest as violent, with doors being kicked in and holes being smashed through walls.

Dotcom’s wife Mona who was pregnant with twins at the time was allegedly separated from the rest of her children while police forced the internet tycoon to the ground, leaving him with bruises and abrasions, although he did not resist arrest, according to the files released to the New Zealand press.

“Throughout the operation the police paid little or no effective regard to the rights or needs of the occupants of the properties, and dealt with them in a highly aggressive and intimidatory fashion, such as to cause significant unnecessary distress and anxiety and fear,” the claim reads.

During the raid, Dotcom’s lawyers were not allowed into the property by the police who confiscated mobile phones and cut off land lines to make sure no one could communicate with the outside world.

The controversial web tycoon is accusing the police of seizing an excessive amount of property during the raid, including power supplies, network switches and routers as well as jewellery belonging to his wife.

While Dotcom’s legal team also allege that the GCSB illegally spied on Dotcom, his family members and business associates’ phone calls since December 2011.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom speaks during the launch of his new website at a press conference at his mansion in Auckland on January 20, 2013.(AFP Photo / Michael Bradley)

“The case will show how the Five-Eyes spy cloud, X-Keyscore and PRISM were utilized in our copyright case. Remember I’m not a terrorist,” Dotcom told Wired in an interview Friday.

At this time the GCSB was not legally permitted to spy on permanent residents of New Zealand, which Kim Dotcom was; although the law has since been changed to allow for this kind of surveillance. John Key the Prime Minister was forced to make an embarrassing apology last September.

Dotcom’s claim accuses the head of the GCSB Ian Fletcher and the minister who signed off on the action Bill English of acting unlawfully. The lawyers accuse Fletcher of giving English “misleading” and “incomplete” information, while the Prime Minister was away and unable to deal with the issue. 

Kim Dotcom’s lawyers, Paul Davison QC and William Akel from the firm Simpson Grierson have said that the High Court found that the search warrant used for the raid was illegal as was the raid itself.

Dotcom’s claim specifies sums ranging from US $1 million to $50,000 and is due to be heard in March, roughly the same time as his long delayed extradition hearing.

The New Zealand authorities were acting on a request by the FBI who are seeking Dotcom’s extradition to the US on charges of criminal copyright violation.

The US government accuses of Dotcom of running a criminal conspiracy that made hundreds of millions of dollars by allowing users to share copyrighted files online.

Lawyers acting for the crown say that the police were acting in accordance with the law and are protected from being sued. Last year the New Zealand government had appealed a ruling giving Dotcom the right to sue, but lost the case in March.