Kim Dotcom dropped his political bomb in Auckland tonight, and it featured two heavyweights in the global surveillance debate - NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The night had, however, been built up as the night Dotcom was set to prove Prime Minister John Key knew about him before the raid on his Coatesville Mansion in January 2012.
However, he did not answer questions in a press conference about his evidence, which took the form of an email released earlier today purportedly sent on October 27, 2010 and written by Warner Brothers chairman and chief executive Kevin Tsujihara to Michael Ellis – a senior executive at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which lobbies for Hollywood studios.
In part, the email is reported to say: "John Key told me in private that they are granting Dotcom residency despite pushback from officials about his criminal past. His AG will do everything in his power to assist us with our case. VIP treatment and then a one-way ticket to Virginia.”
However, Warner Brothers says the email is fake, and Mr Key today said all the meetings he had with Mr Tsujihara were in public and in the presence of other people.
He is adamant the first he heard about the Megaupload founder was on January 19 - the day before Dotcom and six others were arrested on a number of charges, including copyright infringement.
Earlier today, Labour leader David Cunliffe said Mr Key needed to resign if the email were true.
In the post-event press conference, Internet Party leader Laila Harre said no questions would be answered on the email because Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has passed it on to the Speaker of the House and the Privileges Committee to consider.
When directly asked about the email, Dotcom said: "It's going through a proper process in Parliament, which will give the Prime Minister the due process that he denied me".
Meanwhile, hundreds of people lined up outside the Auckland Town Hall for the long-touted "Moment of Truth", with around an hour wait before the doors opened to the public. Hundreds were reportedly turned away once the venue had filled up.
The long-touted "Moment of Truth" event tonight laid out a number of claims made by the two men, which included proof of mass surveillance taking place in New Zealand.
Already today Mr Snowden confirmed the Government is involved in large-scale spying and the use of software XKeyscore, which is used to access private information of citizens on a large scale.
Meanwhile, American journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Glenn Greenwald, who was brought to New Zealand by Dotcom for the event, also wrote today that in 2012 and 2013 the GCSB worked to implement "a mass metadata surveillance system" while Mr Key and other government officials said no such programme was planned or would be legally permitted.
- The Moment of Truth – Edward Snowden
- The Moment of Truth – Julian Assange
- The Moment of Truth – Glenn Greenwald
But earlier tonight, Mr Key released declassified documents that he said countered the claims made today.
He has categorically denied a cable access surveillance programme is or ever has been in operation and denies 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 Snowden was the surprise guest at the event, appearing via an encrypted video link, and was welcomed with a standing ovation.
He said there was an NSA facility in Auckland while another is "in the north of the country", which the GCSB, and therefore Mr Key, knew about.
While working for the NSA in Hawaii, Mr Snowden says he "routinely" came across communications of New Zealanders using a surveillance tool it shares with the GCSB called XKeyscore.
He says it is primarily used to read individuals' private emails, text messages and internet traffic as well as metadata.
"What's happening is a careful parcel of words. He's saying 'this isn't mass surveillance', even though GCSB is collecting all of your information to share with the NSA. The NSA is doing it and then providing that same information to us so we don't have to do it domestically, we don't have to collect it domestically. We just get to search their copies of our citizens' data," he says.
"When John Key or anyone says there is no mass surveillance in New Zealand and they wave cyber-protection programmes around, they're distracting from the main question."
That question is about the use of XKeyscore in New Zealand, he says.
Assange, who has been housed in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past two years, said the Five Eyes alliance, which includes New Zealand, the US, Canada, Australia and the UK, is an alliance of intelligence agencies, rather than nations.
He says New Zealand has equal status as all other countries in the partnership.
"People within GCSB have become addicted to the relationship with these bigger players so they're happy to sacrifice the rights of New Zealanders and move the society of New Zealand in a very strange direction in exchange for membership of this international intelligence agency club."
He did not believe New Zealanders would have agreed to take part in a "radical, extremist project", which put foreign telecommunications of New Zealanders under a mass surveillance regime.
"I think that's an extreme, bizarre, Orwellian future that is being constructed secretly in New Zealand."
source: newshub archive