New Zealand agency accused of spying

2013-04-09 15:01
New Zealand (Picture: AFP)

New Zealand (Picture: AFP)

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Wellington - New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) may have illegally spied on scores of people, according to a leaked review of the agency reported by Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

Under New Zealand law, the GCSB is barred from spying on anyone who has citizenship or permanent residency in New Zealand.

The report found that between April 2003 and September last year the agency may have spied illegally on 85 New Zealanders or people with permanent residency in the country.

Prime Minister John Key ordered a review of the GCSB after it was found that the agency had conducted illegal surveillance on German internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, who has New Zealand permanent residency.

Key said he would not release the findings until after he returned from a visit to China in mid April.

The leaked report is understood to recommend an immediate overhaul of the law covering the GCSB's activities, with author Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge saying the agency may have breached other laws as well including the Privacy Act and the Defence Act.

Grant Robertson, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, said the revelations strengthened the case for an immediate independent inquiry into the agency.

"We need a full overhaul and overview of all our security agencies, because that report indicates there are some serious issues at the GCSB," Robertson said.

The report is to be discussed by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee next week.

The leaking of the report is the latest in a series of difficulties for Key, who was last week was forced to defend the appointment of a family friend, Ian Fletcher, to the role of director of the GCSB.

He grew so exasperated with questioning over the affair that he called journalists reporting on the saga "knuckleheads”.

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Read more on:    john key  |  new zealand  |  espionage
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