Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom will be allowed to pursue damages against New Zealand’s spy agency for illegally spying on him, the country’s Court of Appeal ruled Thursday.
The court upheld in part a High Court decision from December that added the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) as a defendant in the case, which was opposed and later appealed by New Zealand’s attorney general.
Dotcom and several of his colleagues were spied on starting in December 2011 by the GCSB leading up to the January 2012 raid on his mansion outside of Auckland. The spying was later found to be illegal since Dotcom, who has German and Finnish citizenship, and Bram van der Kolk, who is Dutch, are permanent residents of New Zealand.
The GCSB is allowed to observe foreign nationals but was unaware of Dotcom and van der Kolk’s residency status. In September, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key called for an inquiry and expressed “disappointment that unlawful acts had taken place.”
The Court of Appeal did amend the High Court’s ruling that Dotcom would get access to all of the communications recorded by the GCSB. His legal team will now only get access to communications the GCSB passed on to the police, not all of the information it collected.
One of Megaupload’s attorneys, Ira Rothken, wrote on Twitter that they look forward to holding the GCSB accountable in order to protect Dotcom’s rights and those of all New Zealand residents.
Dotcom and his Megaupload colleagues were indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury on charges of racketeering, fraud and criminal copyright infringement. An extradition hearing is scheduled for August.
Prior to its shutdown in January 2012, Megaupload was one of the most visited sites on the Internet, offering online file storage. But the U.S. government contends it engaged in a long running conspiracy that rewarded users for uploading content under copyright protection, netting the site at least US$175 million.