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New Zealand to investigate government spying allegations in Megaupload case

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has requested an investigation into whether officials with the country's Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (GCSB) acted unlawfully in obtaining evidence related to the Megaupload case.

Key said in a statement that "certain individuals" within the GCSB allegedly intercepted the communications of those involved with the Megaupload case without permission. As a result, his office has filed a complaint with the High Court that accuses GCSB of acting "unlawfully while assisting the Police to locate certain individuals subject to arrest warrants issued in the case."

Specifically, the bureau acquired communications in some instances without statutory authority.

"I expect our intelligence agencies to operate always within the law. Their operations depend on public trust," Key said. "I look forward to the Inspector-General's inquiry getting to the heart of what took place and what can be done about it."

Key said he was unable to provide further details "because this is also a matter for the High Court in its consideration of the Megaupload litigation."

Key learned of the behaviour via the director of the GCSB, and referred the case to the Inspector-General on 17 September.

The inquiry comes several months after a New Zealand High Court judge ruled that raids on Megaupload owner Kim Dotcom's home earlier this year were illegal.

The US Department of Justice took down in January for massive copyright infringement, and arrested several of its executives, who face up to 50 years in prison. Though Dotcom resided in and operated out of a lavish New Zealand mansion, some of Megaupload's servers were located in Virginia, allowing US intervention. For now, however, Dotcom has avoided extradition to the US.

"In @KimDotcom we look forward to learning any US involvement in alleged domestic spying in NZ," Dotcom's lawyer tweeted today.

"Illegal restraining order. Illegal search warrant. Illegal removal of evidence to the US. Unlawful surveillance by the GCSB. To be continued," Dotcom tweeted from his own account.