Lawyers working for MegaUpload and its founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz have been given access to files belonging to New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau in regards its investigation into the affairs of the controversial file-transfer service.
As previously reported, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key admitted in September that the GCSB “acted unlawfully” when it gathered communications between MegaUpload and its associates ahead of the January raid on the digital firm, in which its US-based servers were taken offline and seven execs at the company were arrested, four in New Zealand itself. Key ordered a government investigation into the GCSB’s conduct in relation to the Mega operation, and a police investigation has since been announced too.
Dotcom’s legal team have been seeking access to GCSB files through the New Zealand courts, and this week, according to Reuters, a judge ruled: “Plainly most of what is sought by the plaintiffs is relevant, so the plaintiffs are entitled to discovery of the items”.
High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann also said that Dotcom et al could pursue civil action against the GCSB for damages in relation to the snooping the government agency undertook into their affairs without the correct legal authority.
A legal rep for the Mega team told Reuters after seeing Winkelmann’s ruling: “We can now determine the extent of the GCSB’s involvement, and we’ll be able to claim for damages”.
What impact the ruling will have on the efforts by US prosecutors to extradite Dotcom and his Mega colleagues to face charges of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement in the States isn’t clear. But it’s embarrassing for New Zealand authorities, given how high profile the MegaUpload case has been globally. As previously reported, it also emerged New Zealand police had the wrong kind of warrant for the raid they undertook on Dotcom’s home.
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