Cameron Slater: In his own words
Controversial right-wing blogger Cameron Slater claims when he hired a hacker to crack the political website The Standard he believed he was paying for information in the same way Woman's Day pays for stories.
Slater was charged last December with attempting to procure access to a computer system for dishonest purposes -- in plain speak hiring a hacker to complete a cyber break-in.
But until now court orders have prevented Newshub naming Slater and detailing his involvement.
Slater paid $1000 down payment for the job that was worth a total of $5000 on completion, but the hack was never carried out.
In a statement to police, Slater claims he was approached and asked if he wanted "information on who the authors and commenters were".
In the 30-page transcript obtained by TV3's The Nation, Slater claims: "There are strong indicators that it [The Standard] is in fact being operated out of the leader of the Opposition's office.
"This of course would make it a matter of extreme public interest to have that information, in much the same way that Nicky Hager claimed my emails were extreme public interest."
Slater also claims the plot to hack The Standard was the culmination of a "political hit-job" on him -- "a sting and a setup".
"I look back in hindsight and I feel really stupid and embarrassed by the whole situation. It got past my guard."
The Whale Oil blogger maintains he wasn't hiring anyone to hack anybody. He says he believed the cyber break-in had happened and he was paying for information that had already been obtained.
The $1000 down payment Slater made to the hacker was transferred from his company account.
In his police interview Slater says if he were about to commit an illegal crime he wouldn't have used a traceable bank account and "there's no way that I'd leave a paper trail like that".
"I believe I was dealing with a source in much the same way Nick Hager was dealing with a source who had already obtained or procured information, and that information was to be passed on to me of terms of payment. The Woman's Day pays people for interviews all the time."
Book Dirty Politics by Nicky Hager was based on hundreds of emails hacked from Slater's computer and outlined his alleged involvement in the dark arts of politics.
Slater also said he had a clear recollection that he told the would-be hacker not to do "anything illegal".
"I certainly wasn't procuring the hack. I was under the impression he'd already gained access and had the information."
During the course of the police interview Slater was asked about a series of encrypted texts that implied he was negotiating work that had not already been completed.
Slater texts: "I want proof on admin of The Standard. I will destroy them," and later says he could get a "lump sum" together so the would-be hacker could "concentrate on this".
In response to a text that describes the plan to hack The Standard as an illegal activity, Slater replied: "It's no small thing I'm doing this. I could be set up in a sting from media person or cops."
On his blog this afternoon, Slater wrote that he "fell for the obvious" and that he had been left in the "interesting position of having crusaded against name suppression and actually benefiting from name suppression".
Slater was charged on December 17 last year and subsequently admitted his part in the plot in order to complete police diversion, after which he was discharged without conviction.