Dotcom’s first victory was to have the original search warrants declared invalid, and the search therefore illegal. “The search and seizure was therefore illegal,” said Judge Helen Winkelmann at the time.
Next, New Zealand prime minister John Key admitted that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) had been illegally spying on Dotcom. “Mr Key expressed his disappointment that unlawful acts had taken place.”
Now Dotcom has succeeded in drawing the spy agency deeper into the case. In an important ruling yesterday, Judge Winkelmann has ordered GCSB to ‘confirm all entities' to which it gave illegally obtained data. This could be hugely embarrassing for the other four members of the ‘Five Eyes/Echelon’ international spy group (US, UK, Australia and Canada). “The order for the Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB) to reveal top-secret details came along with an order the spy agency would now sit alongside the police as a defendant as the court continued to probe the unlawful search warrant used in the raid on Dotcom's north Auckland mansion,” reports the New Zealand Herald.
This was despite the Crown’s concerns that revealing information, including how GCSB works with its intelligence allies, could ‘compromise New Zealand's national security interests.’ Judge Winkelmann dismissed this and appointed security cleared Stuart Grieve QC to view the top secret information and judge its relevance to the case.
Dotcom is, needless to say, cock-a-hoop, tweeting, “Lets see about US involvement in illegal GCSB spying on New Zealand residents. The truth will come out, in court,” and “It's hard to keep quiet until we show our intel in court. You've seen nothing yet. The big stuff is still to come. Stay tuned!”
Meanwhile, the ramifications of the ruling are being analyzed. Now that GCSB is to be added as a defendant in the review of the police raid, it means that Dotcom can sue. ZDnet reports opposition leader Winston Peters, “This will end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees to fight the case and in compensation to Dotcom.”
There is still one further twist to Judge Winkelmann’s ruling. “Winkelmann has also ordered Detective Superintendent Mike Pannett — a police liaison officer in Washington — swear an affidavit if he watched a ‘live feed’ of the raid on Dotcom's Coatesville mansion on January 20 from the FBI's multi-agency command centre” in Washington, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. He has apparently already told an internal publication that he did – but Detective Inspector Grant Wormald, in overall charge of the operation, has previously stated in an affidavit “that there was no live coverage of the operations going on at the Dotcom mansion.” Judge Winkelmann wants to know the truth.