18 Mar 2016

No more 'Rambo' raids - Hager

4:12 pm on 18 March 2016

There will be no further "Rambo" police raids on the media for a long time, the journalist Nicky Hager says.

Nicky Hager

Nicky Hager Photo: RNZ/ Kim Baker Wilson

He emerged from the High Court today after travelling to Auckland with his lawyer to collect belongings taken during an illegal search of his home in October 2014.

The search came after blogger Cameron Slater laid a complaint when information from his own computer, obtained by a hacker known as Rawshark, was published in Mr Hager's book Dirty Politics.

A High Court judge later ruled the warrant used for it was fundamentally unlawful and that police failed to disclose relevant information to the judge that issued it.

For almost 18 months Mr Hager's belongings have been inside sealed containers in the High Court in Auckland, and today he came to get them back while warning the matter was far from over.

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Nicky Hager outside court with his box of property. Photo: RNZ/ Kim Baker Wilson

"In a job like mine I've got running into the hundreds of thousands of files from different projects, and they took down to the very last ancient CD of family photos.

"They took everything and it's been fairly inconvenient not to have it, but it's all coming back now," he said outside court with his box of property.

Also included was a 2TB police hard drive that officers copied Mr Hager's data onto, purposefully rendered useless.

"We went down the the basement of the building into this little narrow room without lights on.

"The police held torches around while the detective who was in charge of removing stuff from my house... destroyed the materials which they had copied from the house.

"The detective took an orange-handled hammer and he hit this hard drive 213 times and then he took out bolt cutters and cut holes in it, and I'm obviously very pleased about this," he said.

Mr Hager said the police will now never be able to have his data.

Nicky Hager

Some of Nicky Hager's returned belongings. Photo: RNZ/ Kim Baker Wilson

"I felt emotional about it but I felt that I was watching history going on.

"Because what we saw down there with each blow of that hammer was hitting home the fact that there are better legal protections for the media and I hope everyone will benefit from this."

Mr Hager said he is still pursuing the case in the courts regarding what the police did in his home, and whether they should have had access to his bank accounts.

"I'm still gobsmacked that the police thought that it was reasonable to arrive like Rambo and spend 11 hours doing over my house where they found nothing they wanted.

"It was completely and utterly over the top and it would've been depressing for everyone who works in this field if they'd got away with it."

Mr Hager thanked his lawyers, other media, and the public who have helped fund his case which he said had cost "a tremendous amount".

"I hope what this means is that people won't be more scared to be whistleblowers and more scared to be sources in the media.

"They'll realise that there are actually proven legal protections and they'll do the right thing, they'll serve the public, they'll inform the public from wherever they are inside the government or outside - people who want to be sources will realise it's actually okay and they'll keep doing it," he said.

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Photo: RNZ/ Kim Baker Wilson

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