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Dotcom GCSB ruling… a sad day for NZ

30 Aug 2013

It's a sad day for the people of New Zealand when government spies can break the law and not be held to account for it.

That's the disappointing view of Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman, speaking after police rejected the party's complaint into the Government Communications Security Bureau's (GCSB) illegal interception of the communications of New Zealanders.

The police found that Kim Dotcom and Bram van der Kolk were illegally spied on, but as GCSB staff did not act with criminal intent, no one will be held accountable.

Dr Norman says that police also decided not to investigate his party's complaint about the illegal interception of the communications of the other 85 New Zealanders, identified in the report into the GCSB undertaken by Rebecca Kitteridge.

"There appear to be different standards for the Government's spies compared to the rest of New Zealanders when it comes to obeying the law," he claims.

"Spy agencies with special powers to intrude into the lives of New Zealanders should meet a higher standard of accountability than ordinary Kiwis. Having special powers raises the bar for accountability, it should not give you a get out of jail free card.

"The only reason we know about these activities is because of Kim Dotcom's deep pockets and an expensive court process. The fact is another 85 New Zealanders had their private communications intercepted by the GCSB and the police have decided to do nothing about it."

Dr Norman believes those 85 Kiwis deserve to know why they were spied on and whether it was justified, yet he claims police have not lifted a finger to ensure their rights are upheld.

"At the minimum the individuals involved should be told," he says.

"The police's decision starkly demonstrates why we need an independent review of our intelligence agencies and how they operate.

"We will possibly never know what went on behind the scenes and this process hasn't done anything to shine a light on it.

"The police have said that the GCSB did act illegally in the Kim Dotcom case but won't prosecute because there wasn't criminal intent. In fact, the law clearly states that the intent to intercept is the bar. That bar was crossed."

Continuing his rant against Prime Minister John Key and the government, Dr Norman says there was no question of intent:

"They intended to intercept the communications and they did that. That was illegal," he says.

"The police did not have to establish that the spies intended to break the law, but the fact is they did through their actions.

"The likely reason police have taken this position is they don't want to see an individual who was simply doing what they were told being prosecuted. I wonder if other New Zealanders get the same latitude."

Before the police released their decision however, global hacking group Anonymous turned their attention to New Zealand, releasing a chilling video condemning the recent passing of the GCSB bill.

“To the government of New Zealand: you have our full attention and we are watching your every move. Consider yourself warned," the voiceover said.

Was the GCSB ruling a sad day for New Zealand? Are you surprised by the verdict? Tell us your thoughts below