The astounding abuse of Nicky Hager for being a ‘witness’ in the stolen emails that made up his book should send shivers down the spine of all decent NZers.
If Hager was a ‘witness’ and suffered a 10 hour/5 cop search, the NZ Police ‘Witness Protection’ programme could be a contradiction in terms.
There are 2 main questions to ask about all of this, but let’s just clear one thing up that the right wing Trolls are trying to claim, which is the legality of Nicky using stolen emails. The Trolls (and even fellow journalists – shame on you Susan Wood) claim the Police had every right to raid Hager’s home because he had stolen emails. Public Address have done an excellent job of informing us all what the law actually says…
Publishing Dirty Politics
Let’s start with Hager. He claims that the book is based on thousands of pages of emails between Slater and others which were leaked to him out of the blue by an unnamed person or persons. He says the emails were obtained during an attack on the Whale Oil site following Slater’s comment “Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour.” There is no suggestion that Hager was himself involved in the hacking of the emails so the question is: was Hager entitled to publish the emails he published?
The answer is yes, as long as the public interest in the emails outweighs the competing rights of those who wrote them. So how do we work that out? There is a pretty good argument that material in Dirty Politics is in the public interest. The public interest is particularly strong where information relates to the behaviour of elected politicians. Dirty Politicsis making some serious allegations about that behaviour and it’s arguable that the public should hear them.
People also have no right to keep secret communications which reveal wrongdoing. This “iniquity” defence could justify many of Hager’s disclosures including, for example, the alleged exchange in which Slater and political commentator, Matthew Hooton, provide details of Hager’s address to lawyer, Cathy Ogders, who wants it made available to “vicious” individuals whom she appears to believe will have it in for him.
…so it was legal for Nicky to publish the stolen emails IF the emails reached the public interest threshold, which is very high. The Courts when ruling on Slater’s attempt to gag the media clearly stated they believed that public interest threshold had been met.
So let’s just drop all the trolling of that issue. Nicky had every legal right to publish the stolen emails and the police had no right to search his house for 10 bloody hours. I won’t even point out the glaring fact that to date none of the roast buster boys (one of whom was the son of a cop) who admitted on social media to raping women have ever faced a 10 hour search of their homes.
So let’s get to some questions.
1 – Why are the Police pursuing this part of Dirty Politics and not the other allegations in the book?
How on earth is stealing emails something that demands a 10 hour search and 5 cops when, as David Parker pointed out in his letter to Police, there are allegations concerning Undermining of the Serious Fraud Office, Undermining of the Financial Markets Authority, Undermining of the head of the SFO, Intimidation of witnesses, including Mr Gapes, Use of personal information regarding Simon Pleasants to incite threats, In respect of the Minister, the corrupt use of personal information regarding Simon Pleasants to obtain an advantage (section 105A of the Crimes Act), Use of that information (section 105B of the Crimes Act), Accessing the Labour Party computer system in breach of section 249 and 252 of the Crimes Act, The use of dynamic (ie changing) email and computer addresses to avoid detection and the handing over of SIS info to Cameron Slater that went well outside the normal protocols for such information?
On top of Labour’s complaint, the Greens also laid a complaint. How is it that Labour lodged their complaint on September 1st, the Greens on August 14th and yet it’s Slaters complaint of August 28th that seems to get priority?
How is that possible? That the far right hate speech merchant causing all the damage manages to get the author of his demise a 10 hour search of his house by 5 cops, yet Slater hasn’t undergone the same Police scrutiny? Whose interests are the Police serving in this? The People or the National Party?
While we are contemplating that, let’s move onto our second question
2 – How the bloody hell did the Cops manage to search Hager’s house while he has legal privilege to protect his sources?
This is what is most chilling. When the NZ Police got caught using illegal spying methods in the Urewera Terror case, John Key’s response was to retrospectively pass legislation that not only legalised that illegal spying but handed vast new search and surveillance powers to the cops. No Right Turn points out what these powers allow…
These allow the police (and a host of other agencies) to apply for a production order for any document for which they could obtain a search warrant (basicly, anything containing evidence of any imprisonable offence). “Document”specifically includes call-data, including telecommunications stored on a network-provider’s network (so text messages and stored voicemail), and the purpose of the provision was specifically to allow police to access such information (as well as banking information and so forth). That is, its all about extracting information from third parties. But the provisions around privilege (including legal professional privilege and journalistic privilege) apply only to the target of such an order. Telecom and Vodafone have no privilege over your communications with your lawyer, so those provisions are basically a dead letter.
The Police should never have been given these unchecked surveillance powers in the first place and ironically at the time they were justified as powers that would stop organised crime. That the NZ Police are using law that was supposedly aimed at gangs against an Investigative Journalist who has embarrassed the Government and exposed their dirty politics campaign should outrage NZ, but seeing as NZers just rewarded these types of political abuses of power by re-electing Key with an even larger majority, outrage at injustice no longer resides in these empty shores.
If you are horrified by all of this – there is a Give a Little campaign to raise funds to fight Hager’s legal case against this Police State action. Please donate if you can.
Welcome to the new Nu Zilind.