17 July 2014
Joining the dots together to reveal a mystery shape was a popular childhood game. The continuing Dotcom evidence saga has shown elements of this game again this week.
The facts in this case are few, but relatively clear. Dotcom was granted residency in New Zealand in 2010 against the initial advice of the SIS which subsequently changed its mind. At the time he was being pursued by the US authorities on a variety of internet related charges and agencies like the FBI were seeking his deportation to face trial in the United States. In early 2012, there was a botched raid on his home involving the Police and the SIS, as a result of which Dotcom and some associates were temporarily imprisoned. The political fallout has continued ever since and the case to extradite Dotcom to the United States has still to be resolved by the New Zealand Courts.
Beyond these facts, the world of supposition and dot-joining starts to apply. For example, given the major interest of the US film studios in extraditing Dotcom and presumably silencing him, was the visit of Warner Brothers executives to New Zealand about the time his residency was being considered purely coincidental and related solely to the fate of the Hobbit movies? Or was it a smokescreen for the opportunity to apply pressure over the Dotcom case? Was the deal around the Hobbit movies struck on the basis that the New Zealand Courts would fall into line over the extradition case? (If so, it demonstrated an incredible naivety about the independence of our judiciary.) And why was Dotcom so keen to become a New Zealand resident, if, as he now says, it was just a ruse to make his eventual extradition that much easier to achieve?
A few things have become a little clearer as the saga has unfolded. First, the intelligence agencies do not believe Dotcom should be here, whatever the circumstances, although they do not quantify whether and how his presence here might be a risk to our national security. Second, the handling of the Dotcom case has been inept at virtually all levels, with the exception of the Courts who have demonstrated admirable independence. Third, politicians generally have been constantly at sixes and sevens on the issue, and it is genuinely difficult to know what there is to know, and who knew what of that and when, and does it really matter anyway.
So what does it all mean? Presumably, if the New Zealand Government had substantial, subsequently provided, information that Dotcom was not a fit and proper person to be a resident, it would have cancelled his residence status and deported him. It has not done that, so it can be reasonably assumed no such information exists. Which brings us back to the Americans.
If the scenario that the United States wanted New Zealand to grant Dotcom residence because it would make his deportation easier is true, then it shows either a woeful misunderstanding of how our judicial processes work, or an incredibly overbearing attitude that, the niceties of the law notwithstanding, New Zealand would “find a way” to deport him. It also begs the question of why an astute man like Dotcom would put his head in that noose in the first place.
Sadly, a far more likely explanation is that this is another case of New Zealand suffering from “small country syndrome” – spooked by a controversial international mogul seeking residence here; panicked by the intervention of the FBI and desperate to show we could foot it with the “big boys”, leading to general cock-up and confusion, with much egg on face all round.
Unless I am missing something and there are yet more unjoined dots to be found and connected.