Govt spies may face court

The Kim Dotcom case threatens to pull the country's most secretive spy agency into court in a bid which could probe intelligence links with the United States.

Mr Dotcom's lawyers have asked the High Court at Auckland to make the Government Communications Security Bureau a co-defendant in its legal challenge and to order it to produce information relating to its illegal spying operation against the internet mogul.

The agency, which specialises in electronic surveillance, was pulled into the FBI operation against Mr Dotcom a year ago by the police's Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand.

The spying, which took place over a month, turned out to be illegal, after the GCSB failed to check whether Mr Dotcom was a New Zealand resident. He was - meaning the bureau broke the law which bans it from spying on New Zealanders. The admission by the GCSB made the surveillance leading up to the January raid illegal.

The police search warrant has also been ruled as invalid, making the search and seizure illegal.

Mr Dotcom asked the court yesterday to join the GCSB to the case. The Dotcom camp have suspicions about the involvement of the GCSB. The agency is involved in the "Five Eyes" Echelon network which exchanges information among the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and here.

Other aspects of the case have seen swapping of information between NZ and US authorities - even before the November 28, 2011 mutual assistance agreement. Any disclosure would allow Mr Dotcom's team to attempt to examine whether the GCSB had passed information to its US partner, the National Security Agency. The NSA works with the FBI on issues of national significance - which intellectual property and copyright was judged to be by the White House in 2009.

A diplomatic cable released through Wikileaks showed the NSA had been granted office space inside the GCSB headquarters in Wellington.

The 2004 cable read: "The new position will advance US interests in New Zealand by improving liaison and co-operation on vital signals intelligence matters. This is an area where the US and NZ already work together closely and profitably, and continuing to build and expand that relationship clearly stands to benefit both countries."

Crown lawyers argued against the move.

Chief high court Judge Helen Winkelmann is expected to issue a decision next week.

- David Fisher, New Zealand Herald

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