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New Zealand Prime Minister apologizes for Dotcom spying

Dotcom says police missed explosive clues

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The Prime Minister of New Zealand has formally apologized for the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom, saying that the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) had "failed at the most basic of hurdles".

"I apologize to Mr Dotcom, and I apologize to New Zealanders," the Kiwi PM John Key said at a press conference.

According to Key, the GCSB had thought it could legally spy on Dotcom in an investigation into the Megaupload file-sharing site since the police had told them that he was not a permanent resident in the country at the time.

Under New Zealand law the GCSB cannot wiretap citizens or residents, and Key said he had made his displeasure clear the agency for its cock-up.

"I accept your apology. Show your sincerity by supporting a full, transparent & independent inquiry into the entire Mega case," Dotcom tweeted in response. "Show the world that your government is not an American dancing bear & that fairness & due process matter in New Zealand."

Dotcom also pointed out that police should have known he was legally resident, unless they were deaf and blind. To celebrate being awarded Permanent Resident status Dotcom had paid for a fireworks display over Auckland, New Zealand's largest city.

After the news of the illegal spying broke the government appointed New Zealand's Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Paul Neazor to investigate. The resulting report highlighted a series of mistakes by the GCSB and local police in obtaining the wiretapping data.

Dotcom was arrested in January 2012, along with associates Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram Van Der Kolk, accused by America's FBI saying of copyright infringement on a mega scale. The USA is trying to extradite Dotcom to face charges there, but the case has been delayed. An extradition decision is now unlikely before 2013.

Shaky ground

The latest revelations have caused an uproar in New Zealand, with opposition parties calling for a full independent investigation into the spying, which led to armed police dropping in on Dotcom's home by helicopter in a dawn raid. The extradition case against Dotcom now looks on very shaky ground and Key said that the illegally obtained evidence probably couldn’t be used in court.

Despite the kerfuffle Dotcom hasn’t been slacking off. Earlier this week he released a teaser video for a new service which is being built dubbed Megabox.

From the look of the video this will be a portal allowing artists to sell their music directly to consumers, bypassing the recording industry middlemen, with both Radiohead and the Arctic Monkeys highlighted as taking part.

If it comes off the service would be a resounding two-fingered salute to the recording industry Dotcom claims is behind his current legal predicament. El Reg only hopes he's not banking on his own musical efforts to make money. ®

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