New Zealand’s election campaign has been bitter and bizarre, unable to shake off the long shadows cast by an internet mogul and a blogger. Opinion polls suggest Prime Minister John Key’s National Party may cling to power after the real polls close on Saturday night, but it will be close. If Mr Key prevails for the centre-right, he will have overcome allegations of government dirty tricks – based on the hacked emails of burly blogger Cameron Slater, aka Whale Oil, that resulted in Justice Minister Judith Collins being forced to resign from cabinet. And a feud with German giant Kim Dotcom meant Mr Key, 53 and a fellow self-made multimillionaire, had to spend much of this week batting away claims that the nation’s GCSB spy agency is engaged in mass surveillance of its citizens. Mr Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the US to face internet piracy charges, hosted an event in Auckland on Monday featuring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden (both via video link), as well as US investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald to assert the spying allegations.
Mr Key retorted that the public was sick of hearing allegations from “a bunch of foreigners” trying to influence the election. “On Saturday we go to the polls and very, very few people are going to vote on the basis of the nonsense being parroted on Monday night,” he said.
Mr Dotcom, who formed his own Internet Party to contest the election, had spruiked Monday’s extravaganza as a bombshell to show Mr Key had lied about not knowing of his existence until a day before his mansion – in Mr Key’s electorate north of Auckland – was raided on behalf of the FBI in 2012.
The “bomb” didn’t go off. It was an email purporting to be from one Hollywood chief executive to another in 2010, implicating Mr Key in a plot to grant NZ residency to the then Hong Kong-based Mr Dotcom so he could be extradited to the US. Warner Brothers, whose boss supposedly sent the email, said it was a fake.
Full Article: Dirty tricks, spies overshadow NZ election.