Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Doing over the witness

328 Responses

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  • Shaun Lott,

    Will the police now turn up and search, say, the Prime Minister’s office?

    I'm guessing the answer to that will be 'no'.

    Call me cynical, but the announcement of the Cabinet and this raid seem very similarly timed. Seems like now the numbers are finally done, someone is getting on with the business of their third term...

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 109 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    The very fact of the search may deter future whistleblowers.

    A cynical person who believed that this government is corrupt and dishonest might believe that deterrence of future whistleblowers was precisely the point.

    I'm so glad I live in a civilised democracy where the police force do not intimidate journalists who dare to embarrass the government of the day by publishing inconvenient truths.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    Of all the potential avenues of investigation available from the material Nicky published, the one that gets followed up is 'shooting the messenger'. Nice. I imagine that the PM is 'comfortable' with that.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • CJM,

    They're being called 'police' but the SIS will be closely involved with this, dredging Hagers data for correspondence around Snowden and Speargun

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    I tweeted about it earlier - my main point was that people who were saying, effectively, "why are the Police bothering to investigate the hacker, but ignoring the claims in the book" were being unreasonable... And I saw quite a lot of it on Twitter and FB from some of my leftie friends.

    Regardless of the outcome, there was a crime committed against Cameron Slater and he is entitled to expect the police to take action on what was a pretty significant breach of his privacy and data security. Of course there are plenty of points to be made about the irony of such things with Slater, but that doesn't really change the nature of the crime.

    As for the Hager raid - it's certainly a more troubling part of the whole thing, but there are a couple of things... I believe recently it's been decided by courts that book authors probably don't qualify as "journalists" for the purposes of s68 of the Evidence Act, which I'm sure Hager knew. Also, even if they are definitively journalists I'm not sure the act actually prevents the police from a search, just that certain judicial process will need to be followed before examining that evidence perhaps?

    I believe the Police have taken the evidence and sealed it pending a judicial ruling on it which I guess that's basically the proper way to do it in this scenario?

    While the action is certainly somewhat chilling, and also disruptive to Hager's work I'm fairly certain he would have had a fairly good expectation of the risk that it may take place and ultimately the impact for him (and value for the police) will be fairly limited.

    While the crime in question is the hacking of Slater, which few people can muster any outrage for, the objective decrying of the police's actions is pretty easy, but does the same standard still hold if the crime changes?

    If Hager (or some other journalist) had written a book detailing a series of murders that some informant had admitted to, would we hold the same standard? I don't like a slippery slope argument, but I do like consistency - if the police could be allowed to take this action (with proper judicial process) in the latter case, then it should be allowed in the former too.

    In general I don't like the idea of journalists becoming targets for police searches, but at the same time if journalists are dealing with the proceeds and evidence of crime then it can't be entirely unexpected, can it?

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    As with the Urewera raids, did orders come from above, or was this entirely a police initiative?

    They should then ask themseves exactly what kind of country they actually want to live in.

    A country run by good ol' boys networks, for good ol' boys networks.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    Call me cynical, but the announcement of the Cabinet and this raid seem very similarly timed. Seems like now the numbers are finally done, someone is getting on with the business of their third term…

    The raid was five days before the announcement of cabinet. It seems that it was Hager who chose to make the information public when it was.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    It seems extremely unikely that the police will find the identity of “Rawshark”, the source for Hager’s book Dirty Politics and (presumably) the hacker, amid the property they have seized. Hager is meticulous about source protection and will have been especially so in this case.

    The actual legal rights and wrongs of the raid aside, this was my first thoughts, too.

    Hager's not silly. He must've thought that a raid was possible, so any crucial items / info sure as hell won't be at his house. They'll be safely elsewhere.

    According to Stuff he's also said he'd go to jail rather than disclose his source, so they're just not going to get anything.

    This will turn out to be like a smaller version of the Urewera raids: a fiasco that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and gained SFA.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 759 posts Report Reply

  • Terry Baucher, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    'Shooting the messenger' is the first, second and third response of this Govt, so what happened to Nicky Hager is perfectly in line with that modus operandi.

    Seriously though the police do seem to be either completely tone deaf about their actions or too willing to appear biddable. It's pretty disconcerting to put it mildly.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2008 • 91 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    but the announcement of the Cabinet and this raid seem very similarly timed.

    Cabinet was announced yesterday.

    The raid happened last Thursday.

    Perhaps someone could shed some light on why there was such a delay in the news of the raid being released to the media?

    Oh, and Russell.... "And the implications of what the police have done are very, very troubling."....me, I'd give it a sphincter factor of about 9.5.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    Of all the potential avenues of investigation available from the material Nicky published, the one that gets followed up is ‘shooting the messenger’. Nice. I imagine that the PM is ‘comfortable’ with that.

    This is the sort of statement that I have a problem with.

    They are exclusive of one another. There was definitely a crime committed against Slater, and he is entirely justified in expecting the police to investigate that crime given the nature of it.

    Just because we like the end result we shouldn't excuse the original crime.

    The fact that the police are investigating that crime doesn't mean other things from the book can't be investigated.

    That said, while many things in the book and subsequent are very troubling, I'm not sure many are so clearly criminal. Although those that are may still be investigated.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to CJM,

    They’re being called ‘police’ but the SIS will be closely involved with this, dredging Hagers data for correspondence around Snowden and Speargun

    I'm choosing to believe that the intelligence agencies will be operating more properly and that won't be the case.

    But even if it is, there's no chance that Hager, Snowden et al will have made getting at the content of any of their communications simple. Everyone involved knows very well what they're doing.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Dastardly Bounder,

    If it was not a deliberate attempt to intimdate a journalist, it unquestionably functions as one.

    It hurts to read this. Hager arguably has a done New Zealand a service by publishing Dirty Politics and it’s pretty hard not to see the police actions as intimidation. I’ve been in three police searches, two at flats and one where American intelligence authorities searched the offices of the Silo Theatre and Lava Magazine during APEC. After each search I felt invaded and a loss of sovereignty, not unlike the feeling you get after being burgled. In all three instances my respect for police and ‘authority’ fell through the floor.

    It may be apocryphal but I also remember a story about Police raiding a Canterbury based student magazine to seize photographs of police beating revellers at an illegal event in the 90s. The ripples that sent around the music scene further undermined what little trust we had in the police.

    In a time where locally and globally we have issues with police abusing their power and seeming to protect the interests of business and politicians, this raid seems an unwise decision. Certainly to have done so in such a heavy handed manner. Ten hours is a very thorough search.

    The police’s priorities certainly need to be questioned. Why hasn’t Slater’s property been seized over the Labour party hacking? Why immediately after the election? Is this the most important thing they could have done with their resources, were there no other crimes that needed to be policed with such thoroughness?

    Auckland • Since Dec 2012 • 61 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    There was definitely a crime committed

    Not all crimes are equal.

    Police resources are not infinite.

    Both of these are facts and given those facts it is a reasonable question to ask why are significant police resources being applied to this case.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • CJM, in reply to Dylan Reeve,

    Once equipment has been seized it can then be appraised for tracking or snoop implants. From the report they seem to have confiscated a wide range of Hagers gear.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson,

    It is sad that the upper echelons of the police continue to successfully portray the entire force as thugs and bully boys for whoever is in the beehive, at the expense of any trust remaining to them in the community.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R,

    And if I were Nicky, I'd think seriously about never using those devices for sensitive work ever again...

    Once the laptops/phones have been in the hands of police/SIS for any length of time, there's no real way to assure yourself that they're not compromised.

    They also may well have Nicky's private keys on, which makes decrypting any previously intercepted communications an easier task (especially if you managed to get a keylogger on his laptop, either now or in the future).

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Connelly,

    I am glad the police did what they did. Everyone agrees a crime was committed, Hager has said he will not co-operate in the investigation of that crime so what did he expect? Just wished the police were as vigilant on a couple of other matters, but they are doing the right thing here.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2012 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    You say rather ingeniously that Hager was just " a witness" but he was more than that as he clearly profited from a crime
    It can be said ( certainly from the Left ) " that it was for the public good" but let us let the Courts make that decision
    And while we are doing that lets see what real motivation was behind all this

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 576 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson,

    Where was the thread where we were talking about the barely buried preference for authoritarianism in NZ?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    Actually, it was the police who said Hager was a witness.

    "Soon after the police arrived, the lead detective stated that I was not a suspect in their case, merely a witness."

    Source: NZ Herald

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • PJ, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    Yeah um he's pretty clearly just a witness. That's what the police said. Also, pretty much any political blog with ad clicks and all NZ's major media outlets have profited from the disclosures resulting from this crime.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2011 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    This is what I was thinking Bart. You are quite correct Dylan, in that it was a reported crime and deserves to be investigated, but the prioritising of this much time and people power to the 'messenger' is the concern. If we were discussing the corresponding raids on Cameron Slater's home, Jason Ede's home and Judith Collin's home, then I would be more comfortable with it. I realise that they have not been accused of a crime thus far, but, in a sense, that is also part of the problem – the resources are being sent elsewhere.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to CJM,

    Once equipment has been seized it can then be appraised for tracking or snoop implants. From the report they seem to have confiscated a wide range of Hagers gear.

    If that were really going to happen they could just as easily break into Hagers house and do it without his knowledge.

    If he's truly cautious about data security, and I believe he is, then he'll consider the hardware compromised on return anyway and any intelligence gathering that had been hoped for would be fruitless.

    If you want to tamper with someone's hardware, you don't let them know you've had the opportunity to do so.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    First,they came for the journalists......
    Where does that leave me?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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