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New Zealand won’t face charges for spying on Kim Dotcom, 85 others

New Zealand's GCSB illegally spied, but it didn't intend to break any laws.


Kevin Collier


Posted on Aug 29, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 7:52 am CDT

New Zealand’s most secretive spy agency will not face criminal charges for surveilling 85 Kiwis’ communications when tracking Mega founder Kim Dotcom.

That agency, the Government Communication Security Bureau, also won’t be charged for intercepting Dotcom’s communications, even though a court found that action illegal.

Dotcom is currently wanted by the U.S. on copyright infringement and money laundering charges, stemming from his ownership and operation of his former site MegaUpload. New Zealand police raided his mansion in 2012, though a court later declared the raid itself was retroactively illegal, too.

Peter Read, the Detective Superintendent investigating the claims, announced Thursday that the GCSB, the equivalent of the U.S.’s National Security Agency, would face “no criminal charges.”

Read admitted that “GCSB staff did commit the prohibited act,” of violating Section 216b of New Zealand’s Crimes Act, which outlaws “intentionally intercept[ing] any private communication by means of an interception device.”

But that wasn’t enough for a case. “They did not have the necessary intent to satisfy the elements of the offense and be criminally liable,” he said, though he didn’t elaborate on how the investigation determined GCSB’s intent.

The world learned a week before that an affidavit in Dotcom’s case shows that GCSB obtained information on Dotcom’s Internet activity, possibly through the NSA‘s XKeyscore Internet surveillance program. Much of the affidavit was redacted, but Dotcom’s Internet protocol (IP) address and email aliases are plainly visible.

Dotcom, of course, is unimpressed with the decision.

“Surprise, surprise: No accountability for illegal #GCSB spying,” he tweeted.

Photo of GCSB facility via Wikimedia Commons

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*First Published: Aug 29, 2013, 12:06 pm CDT