Kim Dotcom wins permission to sue New Zealand spy agency

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A New Zealand court this morning ruled that the mountainous MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom can sue the country's spy agency for illegal surveillance.

It rejected an appeal from the attorney general against an earlier ruling which allowed him to sue the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), according to ABC Online.

The GCSB, along with the FBI, was investigating Dotcom over allegations of piracy and money laundering by his file-sharing outfit megaUpload. In preparation for a raid, the GCSB launched a wire-tapping operation. But the GCSB is legally allowed only to spy on people with no right of residency in New Zealand - which Dotcom, despite being German, does have.

Dotcom promptly sued both the GCSB and the New Zealand Police. - and prime minister John Key apologized, saying, "I expect our intelligence agencies to operate always within the law."

The decision doesn't just give Dotcom the chance of compensation for the spying - it also means he'll be told a certain amount what information was gathered and how it was used. However, as the information is now inadmissible for the case against him, he won't get full disclosure.

The case will resume at the Auckland High Court on 15 April, with Dotcom facing up to 20 years jail if convicted. One of his lawyers says the team hopes to take the opportunity to cross-examine GCSB staff about the surveillance operation - which should be fun.

"We look forward to holding GCSB spy org accountable doing so will not only protect @KimDotcom's rights but the rights of all NZ residents," tweets Ira Rothken, a member of Dotcom's legal team.