AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Centre/Pacific Media Watch): New Zealand spies on its Pacific neighbours “to buy [their] way into closer relations with the United States", says investigative journalist Nicky Hager.
EveningReport.nz was launched last night with an extended one-on-one interview with Hager hosted by the e-media site’s founder and editor Selwyn Manning about spying on New Zealand's Pacific Island neighbours.
The indiscriminate espionage involving millions of Pacific Islanders and New Zealanders is a violation of democratic rights on an immense scale, say critics.
Tongan Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme that “New Zealand breached the trust that has been established between the two countries".
Understandable, Hager said in the interview last night, when Tonga was being “comprehensively spied on all the time” despite not spying on New Zealand or the US.
Tonga, along with the other Pacific Island nations, were just “tokens of [New Zealand’s] allegiance to a US intelligence alliance” in the so-called Five Eyes intelligence club.
This was even more insulting than if New Zealand was spying on the Pacific nations to discover their secrets, said Hager.
The information was gathered by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), New Zealand’s version of the National Security Agency (NSA), through “full-take collection” of data from across the Asia-Pacific region.
The island nations targeted are Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
The GCSB provides the information gathered to the NSA, which can access it through the XKeyscore system.
Prime Minister John Key rejected the Snowden Revelations and the compromising of New Zealanders’ metadata, saying: “The assumptions made were just plain wrong.”
This was contradicted by former GCSB director Sir Bruce Ferguson, who told Radio New Zealand that there was a mass collection of New Zealanders' data as part of spying operations in the Pacific.
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