The New Zealand police affidavit used to procure search warrants in the recent case of the Urewera 16 (nee 17) — or at least a document which purports to be that — has been published online in the name of the New Zealand Civil Liberties Union. It’s 155 pages long [one page is missing], and available as a PDF.
- Update : Sometime in the last few hours, the site has been closed. “This site is currently unavailable. If you are the owner of this site, please contact us at 1-480-505-8855 at your earliest convenience.”
The site appears to be hosted by GoDaddy, a US-based company, which the report below claims is headquartered in Missouri (although it’s business address is given as being in Scottsdale, Arizona). Extracts from the affidavit were published by The Dominion Post as “The Terrorism Files” several weeks ago (November 14) and one month after police made their initial arrests. Those arrested have all since obtained bail following the decision by the NZ Solicitor-General not to proceed with charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act. Meanwhile, The Dominion Post and its publisher Fairfax continue to face the possibility of contempt of court charges being laid against them for having published the extracts.
Aside from anything else, the publication of the affidavit online raises a number of interesting legal questions regarding New Zealand and international law and the issuing of suppression orders. Thus media accounts such as the one below refer to the fact of publication but not its location, while some blogs record the name of the site, but do not link to it.
Secret police evidence posted on the net
November 27, 2007
Secret evidence in a 156-page police affidavit used to carry out raids on Maori and other activists last month has been posted on a United States-based website.
The version of the affidavit on the website is taken from a photo-copy, which has hand-written legal notes in the margins and marked references to Jamie Lockett throughout the document.
Lockett is one of the 16 defendants facing firearms charges as a result of the raids on October 15.
Lockett’s lawyer, Jeremy Bioletti, this month filed a complaint to the Solicitor-General against The Dominion Post and other Fairfax Media publications for publishing contents of the affidavit filed at Manukau District Court on October 10 to obtain a search warrant for the raids.
Following the publication, Mr Bioletti said he expected The Dominion Post publisher, editor and the reporter involved, Phil Kitchin, would stand trial for contempt of court.
When contacted by NZPA today, Mr Bioletti was surprised to learn about the internet posting of the affidavit.
He declined to comment until seeing the website, which is under the name of a New Zealand organisation but appears to be hosted from Missouri.
Last week Solicitor-General David Collins wrote to Fairfax Media newspapers and the Stuff website, seeking their explanation for publishing information from the leaked affidavit.
Dominion Post editor Tim Pankhurst said today the Solicitor-General had given the newspaper until Friday to respond, and it was still preparing that response. He declined further comment.
Police launched an inquiry into how the information was leaked, initially to TV3, and whether any laws were broken. The inquiry was widened to include Fairfax outlets after they published excerpts from the affidavit.
The Dominion Post ran an editorial saying it believed it was acting within the law and in the public interest.