Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Political pressure"

The Herald's David Fisher has a scoop this morning: OIA documents with an explicit acknowledgement that "political pressure" played a role in the decision to grant Kim Dotcom permanent residency:

On October 22 [2010], one SIS agent wrote to another saying: "INZ [Immigration NZ] has phoned me to advise that the INZ CEO [Nigel Bickle] is questioning why this case is on hold. Apparently there is some 'political pressure' to process this case."

The agent noted the need for the "CEO" to be briefed on the Dotcom case. The SIS director at the time was Dr Warren Tucker, who reports directly to Prime Minister John Key.

One hour and 27 minutes later, another SIS agent said the agency's block would be lifted, writing: "Since Dotcom is not of security concern, there is no reason for this application to be on hold with us. Please can you inform your INZ contacts of this, also noting Dotcom is the subject of a criminal investigation and that they need to discuss the case with NZ Police before they proceed with granting him PR [permanent residency]."

So, wave the Minister, and SIS interest disappears. And despite being briefed on this material, Jonathan Coleman let him in anyway (though he didn't sign the papers himself, instead apparently ordering imigration staff to do it in order to keep his hands clean). This raises all sorts of questions about political interference in immigration decisions, and people are rightly asking them (though it does have a Simpsons-esque element of absurdity about it: "Jonathan Coleman let Kim Dotcom into the country, against SIS advice. Vote Kim Dotcom's people into parliament!").

It also raises further questions about what John Key knew and when. He has claimed to be ignorant of Kim Dotcom - the multimillionaire potential donor living in the enormous mansion in his electorate - until the unlawful raids. But there are explicit references to the need to brief the SIS director, and its unthinkable that he would not in turn have briefed Key. But because whatever went on is hidden under a cloak of secrecy, Key gets to keep lying to the public, enabled by his spies.