1 Oct 2012

'Time for close look' at intelligence services

4:45 pm on 1 October 2012

A Christchurch academic who sued police for an illegal search of his home has joined those calling for an inquiry into the intelligence services.

The Labour and Green parties have called for inquiries over illegal surveillance by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) of internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.

In 1996, academic David Small caught two Security Intelligence Service agents breaking into the Christchurch home of activist Aziz Choudry, around the time of an APEC trade ministers' meeting.

Mr Choudry later sued the SIS for trespass, winning an out-of-court settlement, while Dr Small was awarded $20,000 by police for an illegal search related to Mr Choudry's case.

Dr Small told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme more agencies are getting greater powers and greater resources for surveillance without a proper review of accountability mechanisms and safeguards for individuals.

Mr Dotcom, a German national who has New Zealand residency, is fighting extradition to the United States to face copyright, money laundering and fraud charges.

A report by Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Paul Neazor, released last week, said the GCSB relied on incorrect police information about Mr Dotcom's status, believing him not to be a resident, and did not check further when it intercepted his communications.

The Green Party has lodged a complaint with police, alleging the GCSB breached the Crimes Act, while Labour has called for a wide-ranging and independent inquiry into what it calls serious failures in the intelligence services.