NEW ZEALAND
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Kim Dotcom

New Zealand speaker 'sorry' for releasing journalist's phone records

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 3:30am

New Zealand's speaker of Parliament has apologised to a journalist whose phone records were provided to an inquiry probing how she got a leaked report on the nation's spy agency.

"This is completely unacceptable and I have personally apologised to the journalist concerned," David Carter said yesterday. "This private information should not have been released, and could be seen to attack the freedom of the press."

It is the latest twist in a saga sparked by revelations that the Government Security and Communications Bureau had illegally spied on Kim Dotcom, founder of the cloud-storage service Megaupload.com that the US shut down on copyright infringement charges. Revenue Minister Peter Dunne resigned from the role last month after failing to adequately respond to an inquiry into how an external review of the GSCB's spying activities was leaked to the Dominion Post newspaper.

Dunne was identified as having had frequent contact with the journalist who got the report, including 86 e-mail exchanges in the two weeks before the leak.

"I don't believe the release of information about a journalist or their records is appropriate," Prime Minister John Key said in Parliament yesterday.

Key's government has introduced legislation allowing the GCSB to carry out domestic spying under certain circumstances, prompting protests from political opponents and peace groups.

Earlier yesterday, a group called Anonymous New Zealand hacked into 14 of the governing National Party's websites, including Key's, protesting against the "despicable" legislation.