Opinion: Labour, Greens willing to free Dotcom
Tuesday 11 Feb 2014 9:47 a.m.
So now it is becoming clear why Kim Dotcom wants a change of Government so badly - Labour and the Greens could stop his extradition.
Yes, it is that simple: a Labour/Green Government could save Dotcom's bacon.
Because under the Extradition Act, the Government of the day's Justice Minister has the final say on whether someone stays or goes.
It doesn't matter what the courts find, the Justice Minister can stop one "for any reason".
The Extradition Act 1999 says the Justice Minister can say no "for any other reason the Minister considers that the person should not be surrendered".
So Dotcom has a final get-out clause should he lose the extradition hearing.
Now a John Key-led National Government, with Judith Collins as Justice Minister, will obviously sign off an extradition as quick as you can say "Crusher".
But a Labour-Green Government would potentially be a different story - they are at least open to it.
Yesterday, we asked David Cunliffe and Russel Norman.
3 News: In terms of Kim Dotcom - would you stop him being extradited?
Cunliffe: That's in part a legal matter - and I would want to take some further briefing before I gave you a view on that.
3 News: You know it's a Government that signs off an extradition - if it was a Labour Government - would Kim Dotcom have a chance that any court decision could be overturned?
Cunliffe: "I haven't formed a view on that yet and I'd want to see more of the arguments. Prima Facie the current Government's operation against Mr Dotcom appears to be outside the law in a number of respects my anticipation is that would make it quite difficult for an extradition to proceed but because that's currently before the courts I don't think that's a matter politicians should be opining on".
3 News: A Government of the day has to sign off on Kim Dotcom's extradition - should the Government sign off on Dotcom's extradition?
Norman: No. I've always said I don't support the extradition process. I mean, I just don't think it's fair. I mean the fairness isn't there - look at the way they have been acting illegally against him... They illegally raided his mansion, they illegally obtained evidence, they illegally gave the evidence to the U.S Government against the directions of a judge. That is not a lawful or fair process...The case that John Key has jacked up with the US Government I don't think stands up.
3 News: So if the Greens were in power, would you fight to keep Kim Dotcom in New Zealand?
Norman: Yes. I think that we would - but if you are in Government you would have to look at the lawful rules around it - you don't want a Government that is acting unlawfully.
So Cunliffe hasn't formed a view yet on whether a Labour-led Government would stop Dotcom's extradition - and Norman thinks the extradition is a complete jack-up and would fight to stop it.
So if a Labour-Green Government was elected, Dotcom would have at least a chance.
Dotcom's extradition hearing is set down for July 31.
But there are likely to be delays. Dotcom can appeal any decision after that, and with an election likely from September onwards it is possible that a Labour-Green Government could be in power by the time his extradition is finally signed off.
A Labour-Green government could say it is a "John Key jack-up", start some sort of inquiry - and call off the extradition.
A Labour-Green government could potentially free Dotcom.
Such a ruling has happened recently in the United Kingdom with the hacker Gary McKinnon.
Home Secretary Theresa May blocked McKinnon's extradition to the United States saying that "Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights."
So no wonder Dotcom wants rid of John Key.
It is about survival.
Because ultimately Dotcom cannot live in a mansion, release albums, campaign against spying or do internet business from inside a federal penitentiary in the United States.
It is only natural he wants to stay here.
Which brings me to the folly of Dotcom's Internet Party - having a political movement behind him will obviously be another argument against extradition.
While it polled 0% in the first 3 News-Reid Research poll since it was named, when asked specifically, 1 in 5 voters said they would "consider" voting for it.
Most of its potential voters come from "undecideds" or Labour/Greens/NZ First - technically the Opposition.
But with Dotcom incredibly unlikely to make 5% or win an electorate seat, then this will be what's called "wasted vote", rather than change the Government.
And that favours one person - John Key.
It seems a bit of a selfish political own goal by Dotcom to me, and is why Russel Norman has been scurrying up to the mansion begging Dotcom not to stand.
But what a delicious irony: Kim Dotcom might actually help John Key win the 2014 election.