Officer ordered to reveal Dotcom spy details

A former senior Northland police officer is among government officials ordered by the High Court to reveal details of secret surveillance on internet tycoon Kim Dotcom.

Detective Superintendent Mike Pannett, New Zealand police liaison officer in Washington, has been ordered to swear an affidavit, setting out full details of the monitoring he was a party to from the FBI's Multi Agency Command Centre.

Mr Pannett was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009 before he was appointed manager of intelligence operations at the National Intelligence Centre based at Police National Headquarters in Wellington.

Chief High Court Judge Helen Winklemann last week ordered, among others, police and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to reveal details of their secret surveillance on Mr Dotcom's Coatesville mansion that was raided earlier this year.

The latest ruling is another milestone in Mr Dotcom's bid to challenge extradition to the US on copyright-infringement charges.

His lawyers have already proved the GCSB's surveillance of the mogul was illegal, and search warrants for the raid on Mr Dotcom's mansion on January 20 were invalid.

The foreign spy agency must disclose anything it shared with other intelligence agencies in the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance - made up of the US, Australia, UK and Canada.

And they must reveal if they carried out surveillance on Mr Dotcom's wife, Mona, and his co-accused, Bram van der Kolk.

Mr Pannett has been ordered to file an affidavit on whether he watched a "live feed" of the raid on Mr Dotcom's mansion and if he did, he should provide details to identify the source of the feed, the locations and events being filmed, who else was present at the time of monitoring, and the time he watched it.

Lawyers for the Attorney-General have argued the information sought from Mr Pannett was too broad.

It required disclosure that would create serious difficulty for police in terms of their relations with the FBI.

However, Justice Winklemann ruled it would be sufficient if he confirmed whether he viewed a live feed of any aspect of the New Zealand termination operations, and if so, provided details that enabled identification of that feed.

The judge's orders followed Mr Pannett's report in Ten One New Zealand, an online police magazine, having monitored termination activities around the world in connection with the operation.

In 1987, he started with the Criminal Investigation Branch in Whangarei and in 1998 he established the Northland District Intelligence Unit.

His team was credited with a significant number of successful operations targeting methamphetamine and cannabis, gangs and upper-level criminals.

He was the only New Zealand officer selected to join the police team in Beijing for the Olympic Games in 2008.

- Imran Ali of The Northern Advocate

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter