(Newsroom America) -- New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has ordered an inquiry after the nation's intelligence agency illegally spied on people tied to Megaupload.com, whom the United States is seeking to extradite to face charges related to the biggest copyright infringement alleged in U.S. history.
In January this year, acting on the request of the FBI, New Zealand law enforcement agencies raided the Auckland mansion rented by Megaupload.com founder Kim Schmitz, a.k.a. Kim Dotcom, who is a German-Finnish businessman with New Zealand residency.
U.S. prosecutors claim Dotcom, 38, was involved in a "Mega Conspiracy" by generating tens of millions of dollars in profits from his web site by allowing the illegal exchange of pirated intellectual property such as films and music.
Mr Key said he had requested an inquiry by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security into the circumstances of unlawful interception of communications of certain individuals by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).
He said evidence suggested it was a mistake, but the GCSB had acted unlawfully while assisting the Police to locate certain individuals subject to arrest warrants issued in the case, and an inquiry would help establish the facts.
The Bureau had acquired communications in some instances without statutory authority, which is required under New Zealand law, and which is normally granted by the Prime Minister as the head of the intelligence agency.
After being informed about the matter by the Director of the GCSB on September 17, the Prime Minister said he referred the Bureau’s actions to the Inspector-General, Hon Paul Neazor. The Inspector-General is an independent statutory officer with the power to inquire into any matter related to a government intelligence agency’s compliance with the law.
Mr Key expressed his disappointment that unlawful acts had taken place.
“I expect our intelligence agencies to operate always within the law. Their operations depend on public trust.
“I look forward to the Inspector-General’s inquiry getting to the heart of what took place and what can be done about it,” says Mr Key. “Because this is also a matter for the High Court in its consideration of the Megaupload litigation, I am unable to comment further.”
Kim Dotcom's lawyer, high technology Attorney Ira Rothken, said on Twitter that he was looking forward to "learning any US involvement in alleged domestic spying in NZ."
Mr Rothken said "alleged unlawful domestic spying and the privacy rights" were at stake in the case.
Meanwhile Kim Dotcom was comparing the latest twist in his case to a James Bond movie.
"I'm now a real life James Bond villain in a real life political copyright thriller scripted by Hollywood & the White House," said Kim Dotcom on his twitter feed.