National’s Jonathan Coleman has some explaining to do. He has stated that:
“Ministers had absolutely no knowledge of any pending FBI-NZ Police investigation.”
The NZ Herald reports that Immigration NZ received a detailed briefing regarding the FBI’s interest in Kim Dotcom, ahead of Dotcom being granted residency. The briefing contained “classified information”, and was provided to Immigration NZs Intelligence Manager Theo Kuper. The Herald then reports that:
Mr Kuper didn’t give the classified briefing to the Immigration NZ officer making the decision but told him of FBI interest in Dotcom because of his Megaupload ownership, the spokesman said.
“This information formed the briefing to the head of Immigration New Zealand, Nigel Bickle, and in turn Mr Bickle’s briefing to the then Minister of Immigration, Jonathan Coleman, on 28 October 2010 to tell him under the no surprises policy that residence had been approved in principle.”
The briefing to Mr Coleman occurred on 28 October, with the decision to allow Dotcom residence being made the next day.
Now, it’s conceivable that Mr Coleman hasn’t technically lied. The Herald report is a little vague about what information was in fact passed on to Nigel Bickle – had Mr Kuper passed on the classified briefing, or had the officer handling Dotcom’s application passed on the more limited information (providing in essence a Chinese Whispers version of the classified briefing)?
Further, Mr Coleman denies knowledge “of any pending FBI-NZ Police investigation”. He hasn’t denied knowing that the FBI might have been interested in Dotcom; he’s denied knowledge of a pending joint investigation between the FBI and NZ Police.
Semantics? Maybe. And if Coleman’s defence is based on semantics, he needs to front up and explain exactly what he did or didn’t know. Because right now, it looks suspiciously like Mr Coleman has either deliberately lied to or wilfully misled the public…