New Zealand Whistleblower Reveals He Was Told To 'Bury' Unflattering Info About The Gov't Spying On Dotcom

from the incredible dept

The list of incredible screwups concerning the investigation, raid and prosecution of Kim Dotcom in New Zealand is fairly incredible. At nearly every step of the way, we find out more and more about just how monumentally questionable the whole thing was. Frankly, I have no idea if what Dotcom did with Megaupload broke the law, but the indictment against him was filled with really questionable claims, the GCSB (local equivalent of the NSA) illegally spied on Dotcom and then deleted the evidence, the police sought to suppress images of the raid itself, and evidence was mishandled. Oh, and it was eventually revealed that customs officials agreed to share info on Dotcom with the FBI in the US to “buy… brownie points” with the FBI.

And, now a former high-ranking New Zealand Customs lawyer has said that he quit his job after he was ordered to “bury” information that made the New Zealand government look bad. Specifically, this is about that last point above — the letter concerning the brownie points. Apparently, the New Zealand government didn’t want that email to get out, despite it being required to be released under a freedom of information request (in New Zealand it’s the Official Information Act). Curtis Gregorash, a lawyer in the Customs department was told directly not to release any such documents:

“Mr Taylor directed me to withhold all information and pass the same direction on to my team.”

He said he was subjected to an internal investigation after releasing information about Dotcom sought by the NZ Herald through the Official Information Act. The information released saw Customs staff discuss earning “brownie points” by passing on Dotcom information to the FBI.

“Simpson Grierson [Dotcom’s lawyers] had made several Privacy Act requests of the Government, some of which flowed through Customs, and decisions were made from ministerial level with Maurice Williamson directing Customs, ‘Don’t you dare release anything – nothing at all.'”

Gregorash apparently disobeyed these orders and released the “brownie points” letter — as required by law — and then faced an internal investigation, leading to him resigning in protest.

The “brownie points” OIA release to the Herald was the tipping point. “I got dragged over the coals for it. There was an investigation into me. I was cleared. I resigned after that.”

He also seems to indicate that other documents that should have been released were withheld as well:

“All sorts of jokes and laughs and cut-downs that were being made by officials to each other were being withheld for [what he considered to be] no reason.”

Gregorash had held onto the story for a while, but decided that it needed to be told.

Combined with everything else about this investigation and prosecution, it again makes you wonder what people were thinking. It still really feels like the DOJ and New Zealand officials all simply believed Hollywood’s fanciful stories about Dotcom being “Dr. Evil” — a cartoonish villain so bad that official and legal processes could be thrown out the window just to get him at any cost. Once again, it suggests that Hollywood and the DOJ officials who support it would be much better off actually taking the time to understand the nuances of the copyright debate, rather than their crude “piracy bad” level of understanding that they seem to have of it.

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Companies: megaupload

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Comments on “New Zealand Whistleblower Reveals He Was Told To 'Bury' Unflattering Info About The Gov't Spying On Dotcom”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually with their content yes , but dotcom wasn’t creating content at the time , I disagree with copyright ,and I hate hollywood and it’s ip protectionist garbage , but dotcom isn’t in the ranks of just file sharing , he was making millions from content that he had no part in creating , that was his failing .. dotcom and all govs involved in this are dirty, It’s the guys who lost all their data we should talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Timing

What timing would you prefer? Other options include:

before: days to months out so there is time for spin, damage control, and just generally people forgetting?

after: And then the people say, “oh, that’s why we shouldn’t have voted for that ass-hat… if only someone had told us before the election”

No, no, I think the timing is perfect for implying that these guys can’t be trusted and probably should be voted out of office.

My only problem is I live in ‘Murica and even when stuff like this happens, the majority quite often still votes for the guy in office. Hopefully NZ is different.

Anonymous Coward says:

i think the NZ officials were scared of the repercussions from the USA and couldn’t do enough, quick enough, to keep in ‘the good books’. on top of that, remember how key was when he went to see Obama. he acted like a kid seeing his favorite film star! how degrading is that?
this whole episode was started at the request of Hollywood to ‘a friend in a high place’. the DoJ couldn’t then treat it as an ordinary case but more as a top level one, given where their orders came from. the really pathetic thing is that the ‘official’ who started this still doesn’t have the balls to own up to what he/she did! and remember, this person is in an extremely high governmental position. how can they be trusted to do what they should, siding with the people, when they have done this dirty deed? what lengths would that person be prepared to go to to bail him/her self out of the shit? certainly doesn’t sound much like the sort of person i want in charge of anything!!

mcinsand (profile) says:

two questions

As for the person that ‘Mr. Taylor’ will face criminal prosecution for ordering Gregorash to defy the law? I’m not optimistic enough to expect a ‘yes,’ I’m not even hopeful, really. However, it would be a nice surprise. One of the fundamental reasons behind open information access laws is to try to make our governments a bit less dishonest.

The other question has to do with how events like this affect others. I love music and movies, but I rarely enjoy either lately. It’s not about the cost; I don’t mind supporting the creative processes that generate art. What I do mind supporting are evil groups like the RIAA and the MPAA. Is there any chance that they will damage the industries’ reputations enough to trigger a significant boycott?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

RICO - I just want to put this here ...

The specific goal of RICO is to punish the use of an enterprise to engage in certain criminal activities. A person who uses an enterprise to engage in a pattern of racketeering may be convicted under the RICO criminal statute (18 U.S.C.A. § 1963). An enterprise is defined as “any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity.” A pattern is defined as “at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of [RICO’s passage] and the last of which occurred within 10 years … after commission of a prior act of racketeering activity.”

Racketeering activity under federal law includes a number of criminal offenses, including: Bribery; sports bribery; counterfeiting; felony theft from interstate shipment; Embezzlement from Pension and Welfare funds; extortionate credit transactions; Fraud relating to identification documents; fraud relating to access devices; transmission of gambling information; Mail Fraud; wire fraud; financial institution fraud; citizenship or naturalization fraud; obscene matter; Obstruction of Justice; obstruction of criminal investigation; obstruction of state or local law enforcement; witness tampering; retaliation against witness; interference with commerce, bribery, or extortion; interstate transportation in aid of racketeering; interstate transportation of wagering paraphernalia; unlawful welfare fund payments; prohibition of illegal gambling business; Money Laundering; monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activities; murder for hire; sexual exploitation of children; interstate transportation of stolen motor vehicles; interstate transportation of stolen property; sale of stolen goods; trafficking in motor vehicles and parts; trafficking in contraband cigarettes; white slave traffic; restrictions of payments and loans to labor organizations; embezzlement from union funds; Bankruptcy fraud; fraud in the sale of Securities; felonious manufacture, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in narcotic or other dangerous drugs; and any act that is indictable under the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: RICO - I just want to put this here ...

It doesn’t have to apply to everyone in the world. The media companies that orchestrated this whole debacle fall well within those restrictions and could face life in prison and losing all of their ill-gotten wealth. Evidence of every single conversation that occurred near an electronic device just happens to be available on multiple countries “metadata storage systems”.

Anonymous Coward says:

And, after the whole mess is said and done, we apparantly elected the same damn government again (actually, if one is inclined to indulge in conspiracy theories without any real evidence, the way the election panned out looks Really suspect. Though it being entirely legit is depressingly likely given the nature of the system voter base here :s )


That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Another example of how it sucks being informed sometimes.

Like being a passenger in a vehicle, you can see the immenent wreck ahead, you can point it out, but the other morons(who outnumber you significantly) keep insisting that ‘No, everything’s fine, nothing bad could possibly happen!’ and keep driving straight for the cement wall…

Well, uninformed morons or cowards anyway, I believe in a previous article someone mentioned that according to polls something like 40% of those polled apparently had no problems with massive spying as long as it ‘protected them from the (imaginary) terrorists’. Guess cowardice and gullibility aren’t limited to just the US and UK.

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