'Not an easy one': Jacinda Ardern defends decision to grant drug lord Karel Sroubek residency

Jacinda Ardern defends decision to grant drug lord Karel Sroubek residency
The Government won't share all the information on the case. Photo credit: Newshub/combattv.co.nz

Jacinda Ardern has defended the decision to grant residency to a foreign-born gang associate and convicted drug importer, saying it was "not an easy one" to make.

Karel Sroubek, also known as Jan Antolik, was recently jailed for importing MDMA. He has also faced several other charges - including robbery - over the years, but for each he was either acquitted or had his convictions overturned.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway used his "absolute discretion" to cancel deportation liability and grant residency - but refused to explain his decision due to "privacy and legal reasons".

Speaking on Monday at her post-Cabinet press conference, Ms Ardern said she'd had a conversation with Mr Lees-Galloway about his "very difficult decision".

"The Minister shared with me the careful consideration that he gave this case," she says.

"There's information that I'm not in a position to share, but you might be able to infer from some of the past discussions on this case that this was a decision that could have had significant ramifications that the Minister didn't take lightly."

Sroubek arrived in New Zealand on a false passport in 2003, saying he was fleeing corrupt Czech cops after witnessing a murder. He claimed they wanted him to lie and clear the main subject in a murder investigation - and threatened his life if he didn't obey.

Sroubek faces strict conditions on his residency, including not getting convicted of any offence in the next five years, not using any fraudulent IDs and not providing any Government agency with false or misleading information.

Mr Lees-Galloway says he's given him "one final chance", and any breach of these conditions is likely to lead to Sroubek's deportation.

"The ramifications for this individual of breaching [these conditions]... are pretty significant," Ms Ardern says.