Kiwi blogger charged with illegally publishing images of people on his blog...
New Zealand blogger Cameron Slater believes a series of images he published on his website did not lead to the identification of people before the courts with name suppression.
Speaking to NZPA outside the Auckland District Court, he said he hadn't published any information which wasn't already out there.
"If there's a case to answer, we'll hold the Crown to make sure it is proven beyond reasonable doubt," Slater said, after he appeared today facing nine charges of breaching a court order prohibiting publication of a person's name or any of their particulars.
He also faced a further charge of breaching a court order to protect the identity of a victim.
Some of the charges related to two blog posts that contained pictures revealing the identities of a prominent New Zealand entertainer and a former New Zealand Olympian who were each charged with sexual offences.
Another charge related to posting a coded message identifying a former MP charged with indecently assaulting a 13-year-old girl.
Four charges related to publishing names of people who had appeared in court on primarily sex or violence charges and had had their names suppressed.
Crown prosecutor Ross Burns said Slater's breach of the name suppression orders went beyond naming of prominent people who had offended, as it extended to the protection of victims.
Mr Burns rubbished Slater's claims he was exercising freedom of speech, and said Slater making references to people on his website was a self-serving method of drawing attention to himself.
Detective Tim Traviss of the Auckland corporate fraud squad gave evidence in court about enquiries he made in December 2009 to locate the owner of the offending website.
On the website, Mr Traviss found that Slater had debated the merits of a name suppression order, and had published a series of images which named a person subject to a name suppression order in court.
Mr Traviss said he was able to work out the name of the person from the sequence of images, and he said he was not told the name he was looking for beforehand.
"The name was not known to me but it was quite clear from the images who it was," he said.
Gary Jacobs, digital forensic technician for the police, told the court he was asked to decode the contents of a page on Slater's website, which led him to unravel the identity of a former MP who had been given name suppression in court.
Mr Jacobs told the court it took him less than 10 minutes to figure out the code.
There was no alternative to the interpretation of this data, he said.
During a police interview shown to the court today, Slater said he had followed the letter of the law and not named or given the age or occupation of an entertainer or a former Olympian who faced sex charges.
He did not agree that a series of images on the posts identified them.
Slater told police he sometimes did "random things" because he was on medication for clinical depression.
His lawyer Gregory Thwaite argued there was no case to answer.
There was no evidence that his client was in court when the suppression orders were made, he said.
There was no evidence that he found out that information personally from anyone in the court, Mr Thwaite said.
"He never saw a copy of a suppression order, and he was only interested in the criticism of suppression orders.
"This criticism of the court system should be encouraged in a democratic society," Mr Thwaite said.
Slater elected not to give evidence in court.
Each of the charges carried a maximum penalty of a $1000 fine.
Judge Harvey reserved his decision until September 14.
This case could have an important outcome for bloggers in general here in New Zealand. How much responsibility do bloggers have to operate within the law or the public good?
Acknowledgements:- NZPA, Newstalk ZB