Snowden: 'You are being watched'

Monday 15 Sep 2014 6:00 p.m.

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It is the Moment of Truth, but the problem is deciding who's telling it. Has Prime Minister John Key been caught lying? Kim Dotcom thinks so.

Dotcom claims to have an email written by Warner Brothers chairman Kevin Tsujihara that says Mr Key was privately helping them corner Dotcom by granting him residency here so he could be extradited to the United States.

Mr Key has always denied it. He says that email is a fake and so do Warner Brothers. But Mr Key is also accused of another lie – that his spy agency, the GCSB, doesn't engage in mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed something called Project Speargun today that he says categorically proves they do.

  • READ MORE: John Key's declassified documents - 1, 2, 3, 4

Dotcom was off for a bail check today at North Shore Police Station, getting ready for what's being called the Moment of Truth. He showed his hand early, with the email he says proves the Prime Minister knew about him before the 2011 raid, despite his claims to the contrary.

It all dates back to a meeting between the Government and Warner Brothers on October 26, 2010, aimed at keeping The Hobbit in New Zealand.

Dotcom has obtained an email purportedly from Warner Brothers chairman and chief executive Mr Tsujihara to the lobby group for the Hollywood studios who were out to get Dotcom.

In it, Mr Tsujihara says: "We had a really good meeting with the Prime Minister. He's a fan and we're getting what we came for. Your groundwork in New Zealand is paying off. I see strong support for our anti-piracy effort.

"John Key told me in private that they are granting Dotcom residency despite pushback from officials about his criminal past. His [Attorney-General] will do everything in his power to assist us with our case. VIP treatment and then a one-way ticket to Virginia.

"This is a game changer. The [Department Of Justice] is against the Hong Kong option. No confidence in the Chinese. Great job."

But then came this response from Warner Brothers: "Kevin Tsujihara did not write or send the alleged email, and he never had any such conversation with Prime Minister Key."

If the email is genuine it backs up Dotcom's theory that the Government conspired with Warner Brothers, the US Government and FBI to set a trap, letting him become a resident here so that he could later be arrested then extradited.

If genuine it gives Dotcom the upper hand in his war with Mr Key.

Mr Key says the email will have to be checked out.

It is all part of a big night, with NSA spy agency whistleblower Edward Snowden appearing by video link.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald says he's got evidence of mass spying on Kiwis and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will also appear on video from exile.

The Dotcom moment of truth is now upon us.

But there is also a new claim about Project Speargun, which allegedly involved the covert installation of equipment that would spy on the undersea cable that carries the majority of all internet traffic into and out of New Zealand.

"If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched," was the message from Mr Snowden – the message Dotcom says could finish the Prime Minister.

On his Intercept blog, Mr Greenwald has built a case against Mr Key and his spies at the GCSB. He has revealed slides from US spy agency the NSA about Project Speargun, showing what would allow spies to tap into the Southern Cross cable – New Zealand's main submarine data link with the rest of the world.

The Prime Minister says his spies looked into a programme but it never went ahead.

"The GCSB thought very strongly it was the right approach," says Mr Key. "On balance in my view it was a step too far."

Mr Greenwald suggests changes made to New Zealand's spy laws last year where about enabling Speargun to go ahead.

A second article by Mr Snowden makes a second allegation that "mass surveillance is real and happening as we speak". He says the GCSB is irrefutably using a programme called XKeyscore.

It is an invasive technology that offers access to the entire internet, including private emails, phone conversations and text messages.

"The Five Eyes have access to that database, and so there's no reason to think the GCSB wouldn't be using the database like all the other agencies," says Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.

"There never has been, even on a test basis, or implemented, mass collection of data," says Mr Key. "That never occurred."

The Prime Minister has always denied the mass collection of that data. He staked his job on it. But when it comes to XKeyscore, Mr Key has refused to comment on specific techniques the GCSB uses.

Now it's Mr Key's move. He has declassified top secret documents to prove Mr Greenwald wrong.

"Claims have been made tonight that are simply wrong and that is because they are based on incomplete information," he says.

He has categorically denied a cable access surveillance programme is or ever has been in operation or mass surveillance of New Zealanders has ever happened.

"Regarding XKEYSCORE, we don’t discuss the specific programmes the GCSB may, or may not use, but the GCSB does not collect mass metadata on New Zealanders, therefore it is clearly not contributing such data to anything or anyone," Mr Key said in a statement.

He maintains the GCSB's cyber security operations happen within its legal framework and only under certain specific conditions.

Mr Key says the country's cyber-security programme began operating this year after a "lengthy process of assessing options for protection".

He says it began in late 2011 when the GCSB "made it clear" to him cyber-attacks were a growing threat to the country.

"The Bureau assessed a variety of options for protection and presented an initial range to Cabinet for consideration in 2012," he said.

"The Cabinet initially expressed an interest in GCSB developing a future business case for the strongest form of protection for our public and private sectors, but it later revoked that decision and opted for what we have now – something known as Cortex."

He says the business case for the highest form of protection was never completed or presented to Cabinet and never approved.

"Put simply, it never happened."

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