NZ police, spy agency sued by Dotcom for millions

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NZ police, spy agency sued by Dotcom for millions
Mona Dotcom and Junelyn van der Kolk at the launch of Mega. Picture credit: Juha Saarinen

Heavy-handed police tactics alleged.

New Zealand tax payers could be facing a bill for millions of dollars in damages if Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload associates are succesful in their legal action against the country's police force and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

Dotcom, through his lawyers, is alleging that an FBI-driven raid against him was illegal and unnecessarily aggressive, as heavily armed elite police arriving via helicopters and vans smashed their way through the Mega mansion and separated the pregnant Mona Dotcom from her three younger children, forcing her to remain outside.

According to court documents [PDF] made public this week, the Dotcom couple, along with Bram van der Kolk and wife Junelyn and Megaupload founders Matthias Ortman and Finn Batato, are seeking NZ$6 million (A$5.2 million) from the NZ government in damages.

The New Zealand Herald reported the filesharing tycoon was alleging illegal spying by the GCSB and that the spy agency's boss Ian Fletcher acted unlawfully by providing incomplete and misleading information to the minister in charge, Bill English.

Crown lawyers defended the police, and said they were acting lawfully in executing the search warrant and could not be sued. 

Police seized computers belonging to Megaupload during the raid and afterwards cloned or imaged the discs on them. The disc images were sent to the FBI, a move which was ruled illegal by a New Zealand court that ordered the return of the data.

According to the court documents, the data has not been returned, nor has jewellery belonging to Mona Dotcom and Junelyn van der Kolk which was also seized in the raid along with network switches and routers and power supplies.

A March 2014 date has been set for the damages hearing, just ahead of another expected one to determine if Dotcom and his Megaupload associates will be extradited to the United States to face charges of secondary copyright infringement.

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