Angry Dotcom labels Key 'spinmaster'

An angry Kim Dotcom has labelled the Prime Minister a "spin master" after discovering potential evidence in the upcoming $6 million damages hearing has been deleted.

Dotcom told the Herald that Crown lawyers admitted the information had been deleted by the Government Communications Security Bureau - winning fresh calls for an inquiry into the agency by Labour and and the Greens.

The tycoon, who faces extradition to the United States on copyright charges, pointing to an assurance by John Key on the GCSB last year. At the time, the Prime Minister told Parliament: "This is a spy agency. We don't delete things. We archive them."

Dotcom said yesterday: "He told the New Zealand public in Parliament that the GCSB doesn't delete things. He said it archives them.

Dotcom said the GCSB's lawyers told him information sought as part of the court process ahead of the damages hearing had been "aged off" its systems. The term means the information had been deleted.

Dotcom quoted Crown lawyers as saying "some communications have automatically aged off. We propose to include ... those communications which are still recoverable".

He said: "Look at Key's wobbly spin of the facts, trying to explain this away as yet another misunderstanding. This Government has serially broken the law in my case and now they did it again.

Dotcom, who is becoming politically active through his Internet Party, said: "I hope the public can see that and will kick him out of government at the next election. Send him back to his buddies in America, where government law breaking and overreach has become the normality."

He said an independent inquiry into the case would see Mr Key and others "in court over the injustice they have done to me and my family".

Mr Key said the information was "raw intelligence" which was required by law to be deleted.

"Essentially, legal documents that are created by GCSB are held in their system and archived forever. Raw intelligence has to actually, by law, age off the system if it's no longer relevant or required."

He also rejected any links between the deletion of the material and his comments to Parliament about archiving material. He was responding to claims the GCSB had deleted a video recording which was politically damaging, which he said never existed.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said information sought as part of a court process is meant to be preserved - and doing otherwise was "basic contempt of court".

"If it is true, then they are a rogue agency operating in contempt of the law and courts."

He said Mr Key was attempting to distance himself from his statement in Parliament, saying the comments were made "in the most general terms". "He has misled the House."

He said an independent inquiry into the GCSB would be part of an coalition negotiations after the election.

Labour associate spokesman on security issues Grant Robertson said he was concerned about the implications of Dotcom's claims.

"If true, it speaks of an agency that has operated where they don't believe they need to pay attention to the law." He said people would ask why they should "trust an agency like this if it's not going to comply with the law".

He said Mr Key needed to "come clean" about what he knew about the deleted information.

The inquiry into the GCSB by former Cabinet secretary Rebecca Kitteridge, the incoming Security Intelligence Service boss, referred to material being "aged off" its systems.

The process was referred to when detailing how the GCSB dealt with failure to follow its own law or rules. She wrote "the information concerning the target will be deleted within GCSB if it has not already 'aged off' the system".

SIDEBAR

The $6m damages hearing taken by Kim Dotcom could be put off at least six months, says a senior barrister.

He said the trial set down for up to five weeks would struggle to fit in the High Court calender and might need to be scheduled up to nine months away.

But he also said it would not delay the extradition hearing - and would not even need Dotcom present.

"The damages claim can be heard at any time and doesn't even require Dotcom's presence."

The extradition hearing is currently planned for July in the district court. It waits on a Supreme Court ruling on the issue of discovery, in which opposing parties declare the evidence each holds to the other. The judgment from the court was expected back before Christmas and the delays into February have stoked speculation.

The appeal to the ultimate court came after a district court ruling which expanded the scope of access Dotcom had to evidence against him, including that held by the FBI.

 

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