Greenwald says there are serious questions about whether the New Zealand Government was truthful about the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) law change last year. (Watch Kim Dotcom in parliament arguing against expansion of GCSB powers. July 2013)
“What I can tell you is that the statement that the GCSB made to New Zealand citizens last year — ‘We do not engage in mass surveillance of New Zealanders’ — is one that is not truthful.”
The Government engages in “extraordinary amounts of analysis of metadata – meaning who’s talking to whom for how long, where they are when they speak – on a massive, indiscriminate scale, not just internationally but of New Zealanders as well”.
New Zealand is an active member of the Five Eyes Alliance and spends an extraordinary amount of resources on electronic surveillance.
“…Every single thing that the NSA does that we have been reporting on over the last year and a couple of months involves New Zealand directly.”
According to Greenwald, GCSB spies on a variety of countries, both hostile and allies. New Zealand spy agencies also have access to NSA’s XKeyscore program and contributes to it.
Glenn Greenwald is in New Zealand for Kim Dotcom‘s “Moment of Truth” announcement on Monday night, which is expected to involve new mass surveillance revelations from the Snowden cache regarding New Zealand.
Watch us make history on Monday, Sept 15 at the Auckland Townhall (free entry) – The Moment of Truth. pic.twitter.com/dqk866p2Gj
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) September 12, 2014
Prime Minister John Key rejected Greenwald’s claims that Kiwis are being spied on by the GCSB, dismissing him as “[Kim] Dotcom’s little henchman,” and saying Greenwald was part of a Dotcom smear campaign to swing the election.
“There is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by GCSB, and there never has been mass surveillance of New Zealanders by GCSB.”
“Now in the fullness of time we’ll respond to Dotcom’s little henchman, but mark my words, he’s wrong.”
Greenwald responded in a tweet saying, “Does the Prime Minister think that bizarre ad hominem attacks against me will make the facts- and the documents – disappear?”
Key admitted for the first time that yes, New Zealand spies did look into what he calls a “mass protection” option that he concedes could have been seen as “mass surveillance” or “wholesale spying,” but that it never actually went ahead. After two major cyber-attacks on New Zealand companies, in late 2011 and early 2012, the GCSB started to look at options with the help of partner agencies like the NSA, but the idea never got past the business case stage because he deemed it too invasive.
Key said he is “prepared to declassify documents and release proof in the coming days.”
A spokesman for the GCSB last night said the agency was aware of the PM’s suggestions but could not comment.
Last year, Key put his job on the line saying he and GCSB head Ian Fletcher would resign if the spy agency were found to have conducted mass surveillance.
What the GCSB did do was “provide support to agencies like the police if required.” according to Key.
“It’s very, very targeted. It provides cyber security protection for New Zealanders on a basis where they’re invited to do that, and on a bespoke basis.
“And it’s primary aim is to gather foreign intelligence, so it does do that – it’s nothing new. It’s done that over six successive governments and it does it to protect New Zealand’s property and interest overseas.”
“Lets understand what’s going on here; Kim Dotcom is paying Glenn Greenwald to come to New Zealand a week before an election and he’s trying to influence New Zealanders. The problem is, he’s got the story wrong.”
Asked if the information to be released on Monday could prove embarrassing for New Zealand among other nations, Key said he would not comment on what the GCSB did overseas.