Five-Eyes Scandal: How Far Does National-led Govt’s GCSB Spying Go?

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Waihopai - a Five Eyes network SIGINT base near Blenheim in the South Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Image courtesy of Converge.org.nz.

MIL OSI –  How far does GCSB ‘trade team’ spying go?

“Revelations this morning that the GCSB was spying on Trade Minister Groser’s opponents for the top job at the world Trade Organization raise the question about other activities of the GCSB’s ‘trade team’.

‘In particular, does their mandate extend to international communications between critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and similar negotiations?’, asked Professor Jane Kelsey, whose is part of a network of analysts who monitor these secretive negotiations.

‘For many years, we have warned that the Security Intelligence Service can use its very broad mandate – which allows them to spy on activities that “impact on New Zealand’s international economic well-being” – as a justification for conducting domestic surveillance on the lawful activities of such critics’.

Professor Kelsey recalled how the SIS was caught in a botched burglary of Aziz Choudry’s home during an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Christchurch in 1996, relying on an interception warrant issued by Jim Bolger. The government ended up paying a large, undisclosed settlement and apologised.

The Snowden papers have shown the government is spying on other countries, which presumably also extends to their ongoing negotiations in economic and other areas. ‘That likely includes Pacific Islands countries in the current ‘PACER-plus’ (Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations) negotiations’.

‘Joining the dots, it seems likely the GCSB is monitoring the communications of non-government networks who are seeking to promote informed public debate in secretive deals that the governments are determined to keep out of the public eye – and it is sharing that information with other TPPA governments within the Five Eyes network.

‘In the process, they will also be spying on New Zealand citizens, such as me’.

‘We need assurances from the Prime Minister, or his proxy minister in charge of the GCSB, that they are not conducting this kind of surveillance. Sadly, such assurances seem as unlikely as them releasing any information on the negotiations themselves’, said Professor Kelsey.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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