Pacific Media Watch

17 September 2014

NZ: Mixed reaction over 'gang of four' mass surveillance impact on election

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AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch / TVNZ / 3News / NZ Herald): The mainstream media in New Zealand has reacted tentatively to statements by former US National Security Agency agent turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden of the existence of two NSA sites in the country.

Snowden spoke about secret surveillance bases in a talk to a mass meeting in Auckland on Monday night, which he joined via video link from Russia, where he is currently in exile.

He told the meeting in Auckland that when he worked at the NSA, he had personally been able to spy on New Zealanders through a secret NSA base in New Zealand.

But the mainstream media largely played down the explosive claims made in front of a huge crowd that gathered at the meeting to listen to Snowden, Pulizer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, Kim Dotcom, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

While NZ Prime Minister John Key said he would resign if it was discovered that New Zealanders were being spied on, the media stopped short of calling on him to do that.

Instead, they reported that Key had said that "to the best of his knowledge" there were no NSA spy bases in New Zealand, with one journalist saying that Snowden needed to provide proof of the NSA spy bases.

The press also focused on an email written by a Warner Brothers executive that Kim Dotcom had released ahead of the meeting, in which the executive said that Key was granting Dotcom residency in New Zealand to make it easier for the FBI to arrest Dotcom and give him a "one-way ticket to Virginia" (to prison).

Collusion denied
Key has previously stated that he did not collude with American intelligence and knew nothing of Dotcom before he was arrested in January 2012 for copyright infringement.

The media reported Warner Brothers' claims that the email was "fake" and said that Dotcom had failed to drop a big enough bombshell at the so-called "Moment of Truth" meeting, and had also failed to prove the existence of a conspiracy against him.

The Labour Party said that if the email was genuine, Key should resign.

The email has been referred by Mana Party leader Hone Harawira to Parliament's Speaker to be referred to the Privileges Committee for investigation.

However, some American media reports said Snowden's revelations could potentially derail the National Party's election campaign.

"CNN questioned whether the 'gang of four' referring to Snowden, Assange, Greenwald and Dotcom, had the capability to 'take down a PM?'," reported TVNZ.

Prime Minister Key accused

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Pacific Media Watch

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