Pacific Media Watch

10 March 2015

REGION: Pacific surveillance by NZ 'tokenism' for the US, says Hager

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Tongan PM 'Akilisi Pohiva ... “If I were the leader in Tonga, I would be incensed,” says Hager. Image: Pacific Politics

Susan Epskamp
AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Investigative journalist Nicky Hager believes information gathered from Pacific neighbours in mass surveillance is solely to be used as “tokens of our allegiance” to the United States and the so-called Five Eyes intelligence club.

Hager’s views are that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) is using the mass collection of Pacific people's private information so that the organisation has a “useful offering” for the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Hager was interviewed last night on the launch of, an online source of interactive debate hosted by journalist and editor Selwyn Manning.

This comes from documents whistleblower Edward Snowden made available late last week, which showed the GCSB was undertaking mass collection of communications and metadata from Pacific people and passing on this intelligence to the NSA.

Hager lingered on the question over the sensitivities of Tonga, with new Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva's strong ties to pro-democratic activism widely known.

“If I were the leader in Tonga, I would be incensed,” Hager said.

'Breached trust'
Pohiva told Radio New Zealand: “New Zealand breached the trust that has been established between the two coutries.”

But he was adamant that the GCSB would find nothing, “Tonga is small and we have nothing to hide,” he told Checkpoint.

On Radio NZ’s Morning Report, John Key admitted to not believing New Zealanders had the right to know if they were being watched.

When asked if New Zealanders had the right to know if their personal information is being gathered by a spy agency, Key said “No".

Hager told Manning the GCSB used the cover of secrecy to cloak the truth so they do not have to be accountable for their actions.

Hager clarified which countries in the Pacific were being monitored by GCSB: “We can expect more scandals to come out on this."

He promised he had more stories to come.

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