The Megaupload file-sharing piracy case may be in jeopardy as the New Zealand prime minister ordered an inquiry into the illegal bugging of Kim Dotcom before his arrest in January.
PM John Key said he had asked the inspector general of the intelligence services to investigate “unlawful interception of communications of certain individuals” by the Government Communications Security Bureau.
“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,” Key said.
The illegal interceptions related to ‘Mr Dotcom’ and some of his colleagues who were facing extradition to the US to face charges of internet piracy and breaking copyright laws, Dotcom’s lawyer, told the FT.
The GCSB can only intercept communications of foreign organisations or people, not New Zealand citizens or permanent residents. Although 38-year old Dotcom is a German national he is also a New Zealand resident.
The US Department of Justice has accused Dotcom and his associates of making more than $175 million in illegal profits from a worldwide internet piracy enterprise that has cost copyright owners more than $500 million. Dotcom denies the charges and maintains Megaupload was nothing more than an online storage site.
The case has been dogged by controversy. The judge who was due to hear the case stepped down after he was recorded at a conference referring to the US as the “enemy” during a discussion about New Zealand’s copyright laws.
Dotcom was quick to tweet: “I’m now a real life James Bond villain in a real life political copyright thriller scripted by Hollywood & the White House.’