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21 Jul, 2017 19:35

Kim Dotcom vows to fight 'unlawful surveillance' after court admits he was watched longer

Kim Dotcom vows to fight 'unlawful surveillance' after court admits he was watched longer

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom was illegally spied on by New Zealand on behalf of the US for two months longer than previously thought, a High Court judgement revealed in its ruling over access to his personal communications.

Kim Dotcom said he will appeal the High Court judgement denying him access to his personal communications which were illegally intercepted by the New Zealand government on behalf of the US.

Dotcom was illegally spied on by New Zealand’s version of the NSA, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB),  and drew an apology from former Prime Minister John Key. At the time, it was illegal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealand citizens and residents. German-born Dotcom has been living in New Zealand since 2010. 

However, it has now emerged, thanks to the high court judgement, that the illegal surveillance went on for two months longer than was previously disclosed, from  December 2011 to March 2012, and not January as previously stated.

Justice Murray Gilbert wrote in his judgement last week that the GCSB “has admitted unlawfully intercepting private communications of Kim and Mona Dotcom (the Dotcoms) and Bram van der Kolk during the period from 16 December 2011 to 22 March 2012."

In April 2013, the GCSB had to admit the original January 20, 2012 end date was wrong, after it emerged that surveillance ran for an additional 10 days. At the time it said the surveillance equipment was effectively automated and couldn’t be stopped.

Now, it appears it ran for another two months. This suggests the GCSB continued to spy on the Megaupload founder long after it knew he was a New Zealand citizen; which meant the surveillance was illegal. Previous testimony from the GCSB claimed it was known on February 22, 2012, the New Zealand Herald reports.   

Dotcom is seeking damages against the GCSB. Justice Gilbert ruled that Dotcom can’t access raw intelligence data the spy agency collected on him.

“[The GCSB] filed secret evidence and secret submissions. The GCSB’s lawyers were heard in a ‘closed’ court with the judge, where they made secret submissions and secret witnesses gave secret evidence,” Dotcom said.

“My lawyers and the public were not allowed to be present at that hearing. When my lawyers were heard, after that hearing, they had to make submissions as to why information they were not allowed to see, for reasons they were not allowed to know, should be disclosed. They were effectively shooting at a moving target, in the dark, with one hand tied behind their backs.”

A GCSB spokesperson told the New Zealand Herald “it is not appropriate for GCSB to make a comment at this time,” as "Mr Dotcom has indicated he will appeal Justice Gilbert's decision.”

“I will appeal this judgment and ask the Court of Appeal to shine some cleansing sunlight on what happened here,” Dotcom said. “If there is transparency, there is accountability, and we can prevent this happening again.”

Dotcom is fighting to avoid extradition to the US where he will face charges of copyright infringement, money laundering and fraud. Millions of dollars worth of his assets were seized in 2012.