Clark must answer questions on NZ role in spying on UN

Green MP Keith Locke wants Helen Clark to quickly and clearly respond to an accusation that New Zealand knew the US and the UK were spying on the United Nations.

On Friday Andrew Fowler of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Investigative Unit said transcripts of UN Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix’s conversations in Iraq were made available not only to Australia’s Office of National Assessments but also to New Zealand. The Weekend Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday confirmed transcripts went to Australia.

“Helen Clark can’t get away with ‘we don’t comment on intelligence matters’ any more than British PM Tony Blair can,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party Spokesperson on Intelligence issues.

“New Zealanders are owed an explanation. Was our stand against the Iraq war being compromised by involvement with US and British spying on Dr Blix?

“Was the Waihopai satellite communications interception station, which is part of the US-run Echelon system, involved in this spying? It could have been if Dr Blix’s phone calls from Iraq passed through either of the two Pacific communications satellites that the Waihopai dishes are pointed at. The US would only need to put Dr Blix’s likely phone numbers into the Echelon system for the content of his conversations to be automatically forwarded from Waihopai to the US National Security Agency.

“New Zealand also helps US espionage through its regular hosting of American military supply flights through Harewood in Christchurch to the US spy base at Pine Gap in central Australia. Yesterday the Sydney Morning Herald reported an intelligence source had said ‘the bugging was almost certainly undertaken — at least in part — by spy satellites linked with the Pine Gap relay station outside Alice Springs’.

“We need to know if New Zealand is so enmeshed in an intelligence arrangement with America that we are helping it spy on the United Nations. Surely such a situation is inconsistent with our support for the UN and multilateralism in the face of attacks from the Bush administration?” said Mr Locke.