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Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom is the founder of Megaupload, a now-defunct file-sharing online service that was registered in Hong Kong. The German citizen also has residency in New Zealand and Hong Kong. In January 2012, Dotcom was indicted in the US and accused of racketeering by facilitating massive copyright fraud. He was arrested in Coatesville, Auckland, New Zealand, during an armed raid and is fighting extradition to the US.

NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong lawyers for Kim Dotcom fear they may be victims of US cyberspying

Cybersnooping scandal takes a new twist with HK legal firm asking whether its protected communication with clients was intercepted

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 9:26am

The global cyberspying scandal exposed by American whistle-blower Edward Snowden has taken a new twist, with the Hong Kong law firm representing internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom voicing fears US authorities may have intercepted confidential communication with their client.

Haldanes wrote to the US Department of Justice last week to express fears that its privileged communications may have been intercepted. It sought assurances that this was not the case.

Along with six others, New Zealand-based Hong Kong resident Dotcom is fighting extradition to the US to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering in connection with the file-sharing website Megaupload. All the accused deny the charges.

Haldanes' request to the department coincides with a report from Reykjavik that Iceland had received an informal approach from Snowden for asylum there.

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told Reuters that an intermediary had approached him on Snowden's behalf.

"On 12 June, I received a message from Edward Snowden where he asked me to notify the Icelandic government that he wanted to seek asylum in Iceland," said Hrafnsson, who is also a journalist in Iceland.

The Icelandic government refused to say whether it would grant asylum to Snowden but confirmed it had received the message from Hrafnsson. Iceland has a reputation for promoting internet freedoms, but Snowden has said he travelled to Hong Kong immediately from the United States as he feared the country of only 320,000 could be more easily pressured by Washington.

Haldanes' questions about covert surveillance will heap more pressure on the Hong Kong government to address claims by Snowden in an interview with the Post last week that the United States has been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland for years under the US spy programme Prism.

Last night, in response to questions from the Post, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said: "In accordance with the established practice, the Department of Justice does not see fit to comment on the specific details of individual cases."

Haldanes solicitor Geoffrey Booth said: "We have written to the [department] to ask them if there has been any interception of legally privileged material. We haven't had a reply. It would be useful to know from Mr Snowden if he was aware that this particular type of interception was being practised under Prism."

Dotcom's substantial assets in the city were frozen by Hong Kong authorities in a joint operation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in January 2011.

Booth said the law firm was particularly concerned because, while the US response to Snowden's cyberspying leaks now focuses its justification on the grounds that hacking operations help stop terrorist attacks, this was not the case when the scandal first broke.

"Senior US government officials are using the justification of preventing terrorist attacks - which no one can argue with. But they have also used the cybercrime investigations as a justification," he said.

In the early stages of the scandal, US Attorney General Eric Holder said the Prism programme was aimed at "facilitating the acquisition of foreign intelligence information on targets outside the US".

Booth said: "The issue is, have [the US] been eavesdropping on privileged communications between a lawyer and his clients over a matter of alleged copyright infringement? If they have, then this crosses a boundary and needs to be regulated."



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This article is now closed to comments

I scoured this article for even a single shred of evidence that the allegation in the headline is true. There is none -- just baseless speculation from Dotcom's lawyers.
Really SCMP -- when it comes to articles bashing the USA, do even the most basic editorial standards not apply?
the sun also rises
Hong Kong practises and revers freedom of press.Any irregualarities or misdeeds committed by even the No.1 power in the world(the World Cop) can be and should be published here in Hong Kong as a place which respects freedoms and promotes freedom of expression.Shame on you and your blind loyalty towards the American government ! Shame on you trying to curb an independent news reporting.You are the shame of all intellectuals in town (just like writer,Tao/Cho Kit/Chit) indeed
Except when SCMP self censors so that it will not offend Beijing's Mandarins.
However on the Dotcom saga, it is open knowledge that the lobbies and special interests with the most money funneled into the pockets/campaigns of American politicians get the immediate action they desire, hence Hollywood getting the American militarist police forces to threaten New Zealand into allowing FBI storm troopers onto its soil to apprehend Dotcom and friends.
Think about this: would the US EVER, EVER allow anything remotely similar if the tables were turned? Foreign law enforcement conducting raids? Foreign drones flying in American airspace? Foreign spy ships within economic waters offshore?
"Except when SCMP self censors so that it will not offend Beijing's Mandarins."

Everyone says this, but maybe show some proof of this actually being true. Even post handover, there's been some very damning articles about the Chinese government and China in general.
honkiepanky. do you read the news? NZ PM was last year forced to apologise to Kim Dotcom for illegally wiretapping him, US pres and attorney general have said it is legitimate to snoop in cases of suspected cyber crime, all facts. HIs HK lawyers have written expressing concerns to HK authorities, fact. You think the public has no right to know these things?
Yes it's speculation but it is logical and their worries are valid. I don't see why SCMP should not publish this article.
thanks for MFSOB richard cheney




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