Kim Dotcom, Pushing His 'Internet Mana' Party, Brings Snowden But Lacks Bombshell at 'Moment of Truth'
The general election in New Zealand will be held on September 20
Kim Dotcom, founder of the shuttered MegaUpload and (currently) still-extant Mega file hosting services, assembled Edward Snowden and Julian Assange for his hyped "Moment of Truth" event on Monday, where a discussion about government mass surveillance in New Zealand was overshadowed by the lack of the day's planned bombshell: a now-disputed email from a Hollywood studio exec that would seem to prove a plot to extradite the controversial entrepreneur to the United States.
Since his arrest by New Zealand police on January 19, 2012 on behalf of the FBI, Dotcom has claimed there was a government conspiracy to entrap him in New Zealand and send him to the U.S. on piracy charges. In the run-up to Dotcom's event, an email purportedly from Warner Bros. Entertainment chief exec Kevin Tsujihara to a senior executive at the Motion Picture Association of America emerged, according to the New Zealand Herald. Dated October 2010, the alleged message from Tsujihara to the MPAA's Michael Ellis mentions an agreement from NZ prime minister John Key to grant Dotcom asylum there where he would get "VIP treatment and then a one-way ticket to Virginia."
Here's a screen grab of the alleged correspondence:
If true, the email would contradict Key's previous assertions that he had never even heard of Dotcom before his arrest. But this bit of evidence was omitted from Dotcom's "Moment of Truth" event, which also featured journalist Glenn Greenwald, and hours before Warner Bros. and the MPAA both released statements denying the plot. "Kevin Tsujihara did not write or send the alleged email, and he never had any such conversation with Prime Minister Key," WB studio spokesperson Paul McGuire said in a statement to the Herald. "The alleged email is a fabrication." An MPAA rep said Ellis never received the email or discussed the matter with Tsujihara.
The email would be a blow to Key's credibility and undoubtedly shake up the upcoming elections in New Zealand, set to be held on Saturday and which Dotcom's "Internet Mana" political party is predicted to win seats in parliament. But with its validity in doubt, many are calling Dotcom's "Truth" event a bust. "There were no killer punches landed on John Key," said journalist Fran O'Sullivan. "Neither was any conclusive evidence revealed proving Key knew about Dotcom well in advance of the Coatesville raid."
What was discussed at the glossy event was "Speargun," an alleged surveillance program via New Zealand's spy agency (GCSB) that if implemented would have initiated the spying of cyber-communications of New Zealanders. Snowden, the notorious NSA whistleblower now living in Russia, presented documents regarding the surveillance program, which Key said this week was never enacted because it made him feel "uncomfortable." In an article for Greenwald's The Intercept, Snowden said that he witnessed the intercepted traffic while working for the NSA. "If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched," he wrote. He claimed the NSA operated a spy facility in Auckland, NZ.
Dotcom held the event at Auckland Town Hall, with Greenwald in attendance and Snowden and Assange participating remotely. The event also served as a rally of sorts for Dotcom's Internet Party, his political party that is competing in this weekend's election there.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.