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Media statement from Cameron Slater on Benjamin Rachinger and the hack of the Standard that that never actually happened

by Cameron Slater on May 9, 2016 at 9:52pm

A lot of time has passed since the criminal hacker took the bulk of my emails and Facebook chats as part of a planned conspiracy against the Right. And a significant amount of time has passed since my last public statement about Ben Rachinger and the alleged hacking into The Standard blog.

A lot has happened. A lot continues to happen. And my approach has been to say almost nothing to stop it getting in the way of several police complaints, active investigations and court cases I am directly or peripherally involved in. Mostly as the complainant, I’d like to add.

All of this is connected to Kim Dotcom, to the NZ Police, to the NZ Herald, TV3, Colin Craig and several people I can still not name due to other court commitments. But the Ben Rachinger “The Standard hack” issue has now resolved itself to the point where it can be talked about with some degree of isolation without getting in the way of the other issues before the authorities.

Today, with the lifting of the Police­requested and Court­ordered suppression, I am taking the opportunity to do two things.

I’m going to make a number of factual statements today in this release, and I am going to write a number of articles that will delve into some of the detail of what has developed. The first will be published on later today.

Ben and I worked together for a considerable amount of time. During that period, I understood that we were trying to find out more information as to who was behind the hacking of my emails and data.

To discover information that could assist the NZ Police and hopefully to prosecute the people involved in the planning, the hacking, the person that paid for it, the people that distributed the information and the people who made money from it.

For months Ben and I were on the same team. Or so I thought. I am a sucker for people that are broken and need help, and Ben fitted and I believe still fits that category. His personal problems are publicly documented by Ben himself elsewhere, but I wasn’t aware of some of these at the time. As part of our working relationship, he did regularly claim financial hardship, and I even attempted to organise regular work for him. All this is already on public record.

At some point, Ben stopped being an ally, and turned on me. It may very well have been his plan to do so from the beginning, but when I was paying him to assist in doing research and tracking information based on his claims of being connected to the “hacking scene”, he obviously kept that relationship functional as I was a source of money to fund his expensive needs.

My state of mind at the time is relevant here. The world was out to get me. I’d been the subject of a three month continuous barrage of political and media attention, most of it with the intention to judge me in the Court of Public Opinion to have broken the law as a “Dirty Politics” operator that works with politicians, media, industry, public relations, spin doctors and interested individuals.

Media would camp out on my doorstep. There were threats to my life, my family’s life and well being, and I quietly moved to a different place to live. One of those threats has subsequently resulted in someone being convicted and having been deprived of his liberty. This was all very real to me. I definitely had fallen into a siege mentality.

During this period, media from the NZ Herald and TV3 specifically, but others generally, were hounding me and trying to frame the argument that I had done something illegal when I worked as a practitioner of the Dark Political Arts.

Few people will have sat through a 7 hour interview without a break, alone, facing several highly skilled professional interrogators with long backgrounds in New Zealand’s security services, where they hammer you on every detail, repeatedly. Like a criminal in fact.

As we know now, nothing that happened under the guise of what has now become known as Dirty Politics broke any laws. People may not like the tactics, but there was nothing to charge anyone over. Nothing. Not just me. Anyone.

That didn’t stop my political opponents, as it shouldn’t. I would have done the same to them. But where things got out of hand was that certain people working for the media also joined the attempt to destroy me, my friends, my contacts and my network.

People have lost their jobs. Employers were rung and scared with one­sided information. A good Minister lost her job. Others have been hurt financially and reputationally.

We all know about the game of Politics, but following a criminal attempt to subvert an election, to have certain elements in media use their employers’ and private resources to attempt to destroy me, my family, my friends and colleagues was a whole new low.

It is with this back story that I was isolated, angry and deeply resentful at the hypocrisy of media who were on the one hand claiming all the rights, protections and expectations of being journalists for themselves and Mr Hager, but none of those applied to me only because I was and remain a commercial threat and am deeply disliked for being effective at what I do.

Additionally, I was and remain intensely resentful of the usual commentators on the left and in the media that had made it their personal project to destroy me – professionally and personally.

Destroying me was the ultimate objective that started with that meeting where a plan was made to put so much pressure on, that I might even take my own life. So it was stated at the time. And credit where it is due, some people walked out of that meeting at that stage. They knew it had gone too far.

But that was the world I lived in at the time. The pivotal point was when Ben Rachinger told me he had access to parts of The Standard blog that aren’t public. I always suspected The Standard and the Labour Party to have formal ties, and it would prove they too did exactly the same as what National and I stood accused of: play politics.

It is important that you understand the sequence of events. Ben has been extremely vocal on the Internet and with the help of TV3, and none of his claims have been publicly rebutted.

Today, that changes.

I did not order the hacking of The Standard blog. Ben told me he already had access to some data he obtained from The Standard. Parts of our conversation surrounding that have subsequently been released by Ben, but it is incomplete, out of sequence and it recasts certain facts in a context that simply isn’t true.

Please keep in mind that those incorrect and out of sequence cherry picked facts were surrounded by a narrative spun by Ben, and then amplified and misrepresented by hostile bloggers, media and especially Ben’s champions at TV3.

Ben also told me he was working together with Manukau police on tracking down Rawshark. He has stated as much on TV3 when they ran their extended story on him.

This was a huge validation point for me. He would regularly chat about what he was doing in a general sense, or that his police handlers were in the room with him while they were trying to trick certain people in “hacking” chat rooms to give up information by using Ben’s self proclaimed social engineering skills. It was Ben typing, but the police were asking the questions and writing down the answers.

Please keep that in mind. I believed what Ben was up to was part of a police sanctioned activity up to that point.

When, as part of working together with police, Ben dangled what I thought was hard proof of The Standard being complicit with working together with Rawshark, at that point, I made a mistake. I thought he had come across it as part of his work with the Police, and he was giving me a sneaky glimpse.

I was so eager to finally make some progress against those that I know have been involved in the larger conspiracy against me personally, that I made the mistake of wanting to see what Ben said he had access to.

In hindsight, it is all so obvious now. Ben wouldn’t let me see it unless I paid him for it. I wasn’t paying for anything I hadn’t seen.

It should have stopped there. But I wanted it too much. So Ben sent some samples.

These samples, he claimed were what he obtained from The Standard. At that stage I was so extremely excited. It clearly fingered at least one individual that I believed to be involved. I was on the hook, and Ben was reeling the line in. I could see real justice coming my way.

I needed something to go my way so badly.

Ben wanted $5,000 for what he described as The Standard data he held. That’s not the sort of money I have access to at the drop of a hat, especially as Ben had been regularly requesting and receiving a living wage from me already. I needed to organise a sponsor to assist.

I wanted to see a little more, because most of what he provided was just encrypted and inaccessible. It could have been anything. (In the end, it proved to be exactly that).

Ultimately, Ben didn’t produce anything more and the whole relationship turned sour as my critical thinking and suspicions finally took control over my basic need to get some progress against “Team Rawshark”. All money was now cut off, and I ceased to be of use to Ben. This is when he turned. Or at least, this is when the next phase of his plan to destroy me was initiated.

Unfortunately, at that stage, I had been dragged across the line, and I had committed the offence of “Attempting to access a computer for a dishonest purpose”.

The owner of The Standard laid a police complaint that I had asked for and paid for a hack into their computer system based on Ben’s public accusations. That resulted in both Ben and I being questioned by NZ Police.

I handed over all the information, all the emails, and even an encrypted phone with the password. Police could see it all. More importantly, they could see it in the right sequence and in full context, something that Ben and TV3 had carefully crafted in public to appear something quite different.

In the end, Police reached the conclusion that I’d been stupid rather than a hardened criminal. I wanted what Ben said to be true so much, that I stepped over the line. And Ben, credit where it is due, created the trust, then the irresistible bait, and then he managed to use my feelings of anger and injustice against me.

Both Ben and I were charged.

The police insisted on full suppression because they didn’t want the media to blow this thing sky high. Police were aware that Ben and TV3 had been working hand­in­hand for some time, not just as a source and journalist, but also as a security consultant. The police wanted the process up to this point to be allowed to progress without it turning into a media circus.

Hence the suppression request.

This did leave me in an interesting position of having crusaded against name suppression and actually benefiting from name suppression, something that insiders found hard to stomach.

So here’s the central core of the whole situation: Ben never hacked The Standard, and I never ordered the hack.

Unfortunately for me, the law doesn’t see it that way. The law says that making arrangements to have a crime committed is punishable exactly the same as if you committed the crime yourself. Even if it didn’t happen. And especially if your partner in the fictitious crime is busy defrauding you by making you believe something that isn’t true. The law is somewhat unkind that way.

Ben may not have hacked The Standard, but he did create and/or provide documents with the intent to convince me that he had. And based on those documents, I got conned into discussing payment to see the rest, which at the beginning I believed actually existed. You have no idea how much I wanted to believe it was all real. Well, perhaps you do.

In my tortured mind, there was little difference to that and what Hager had done. Take hacked information, publicise it, and the public interest would outweigh the fact that a line was crossed.

As I, and now you, know, somehow the standards that are applied to Mr Hager are different to those that I have faced. But I have I accepted that I had gone too far.

Although this was a huge event in my life, to the NZ Police this was humourous more than it was the crime of the century. From their perspective they had a journalist and a con­man winding each other up about a few fake files. Both of the parties allegedly broke the law.

Both got hurt, and both would clearly not do the same stupid thing again.

Both Ben and I were therefore offered diversion. Adult Diversion is a scheme where people who have strayed on the wrong side of the law, who have no history of doing so, show contrition and are highly unlikely to do that again are offered to carry out a number of public and personal tasks in exchange for having their charge wiped.

Part of my diversion was to undergo professional counselling to ensure the court knows that I understand the rights and wrongs and to give me appropriate coping strategies if I ever find myself in a similar situation. (Let’s hope not – the last two years surely can never happen twice?)

Diversion allows for my mistake to go un­recorded officially. So officially I don’t have a conviction. I do understand that this is a practical way to give people like me a clean slate to ensure I never make a similar mistake. But it doesn’t mean I’m not guilty of wanting to use data that I believed to have come from The Standard to expose my opponents and to save myself in the process. I did it the wrong way. I let myself down, and I let my supporters down. For that I am truly sorry.

Ben on the other hand has refused diversion. It is not for me to speculate what his reasoning is behind this. Ben continues to be a man with many demons, and I am aware he feels slighted by the NZ Police and even the Minister of Police, who rather interestingly, in the meantime, is Judith Collins. (You couldn’t make this stuff up!)

I know that Media and TV3 specifically have worked very hard to make sure that Ben can tell his story to the world. The story goes much further than the one I’ve told you today. Ben alleges that he’s a victim of Police misconduct and high level political interference. He’s got proof, apparently, and will argue his points in court in cases other than mine.

As far as I understand it, Ben has taken the position that he is not guilty of the charge leveled against him (Obtaining by deception). I guess that now that the suppression orders have lapsed, you will get to see more of that in the media, including Ben’s reasoning behind refusing diversion and going on this particular path. As I understand it, he believes that trapping me in a crime was part of what Police asked him to do, and as a result, he should not face the consequences of breaking the law himself.

I will follow these developments with keen interest, as I can no longer tell what parts of Ben’s journey are based on truth, and the parts that have been carefully crafted. First to continue the Dirty Politics attack against me, and subsequently the huge mess he’s created trying to justify and extricate himself.

I realise my statement today will raise more questions than it has answered, and media specifically will be trying to get hold of me for interviews. As I consider some journalists and reporters hostile and to some degree complicit in the Rawshark hack, Hager book and Whaledump fallout, I am not likely to be on TV or on Radio to talk about this. Instead, you can read the articles as they appear on my blog.

If media insist on wanting to contact me, please consider emailing your questions, and I’ll review your request on a case by case basis.

To close, I’d like to thank the NZ Police for their work. In the end, I forced them into a corner where the law required a charge to be laid. And that was my fault alone. I’d like to thank my family, my support crew and my ever so loyal Whaleoil readers. Who knows where all this could have ended up if it wasn’t for your support.

Today, a new chapter starts. A chapter where I start fighting back in public, rather than continue to suffer the uncontested lies perpetrated by my political opponents and aided and abetted by personally motivated, well resourced and complicit media.

My first article on what happened will be published on later today. — end —

Cam Slater
Editor – Whaleoil

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