The "secrets-for-brownie points" case has been escalated to
Customs Minister Maurice Williamson - but he says it has
nothing to do with him.
It's a stance labelled inadequate by Greens' spokesman on
Customs, Steffan Browning, who says the minister must at
least assure the public nothing illegal has taken place.
Both the minister and his department are refusing to make any
comment about an email from Greg Davis, Customs' manager of
intelligence services, which urges colleagues in charge of
sensitive information about internet tycoon Kim Dotcom to
slip it to the FBI for "brownie points".
At the time of the email, Mr Davis was manager of the
Integrated Targeting Operations Centre - a highly sensitive
passenger screening process adopted from US Homeland
In the email, Mr Davis told Immigration NZ's intelligence
staff a "proactive" delivery of information would be welcomed
by the FBI.
Mr Davis said "the FBI would be interested in anything we
have on Kim Dotcom so any information we can proactively feed
to them on him will buy you many brownie points".
At the time, no New Zealand agency had received a formal
request for assistance from the US in the Dotcom case.
Mr Williamson's office initially refused to say whether he
had been briefed about the email by Mr Davis.
Today, Mr Williamson responded to an urgent Official
Information Act request and revealed he had been told last
Friday by a senior Customs official about the "brownie
points" email. It was the same day the Herald began making
"It is an operational matter that is being dealt with by
But Customs continues to refuse to make any comment on the
issue, saying only it is allowed to pass certain information
to other countries.
Mr Browning said the minister appeared to be using
"operational issues" to avoid getting involved in an incident
which raised concerning questions.
"There needs to be some very clear explanations. Greg Davis
should be held accountable. From that email, that appears to
be something that is potentially even illegal that is being
He said Customs should take note of the statement made by
Prime Minister John Key when he opened the Integrated
Targeting Operations Centre, just weeks before Mr Davis sent
At the opening, Mr Key said: "Anyone who is innocent has
nothing to fear."
Mr Browning said Mr Key's view raised questions about
Customs' silence - and its refusal to explain Mr Davis'
He said it showed Mr Williamson needed to be involved.
"What it the minister's explanation for Greg Davis' casual
approach to the privacy of a New Zealand resident?"