Close my file and stop snooping on MPs

Green Party MP Keith Locke wants an assurance that the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) will finally close the file on his life – after over five decades of unwarranted snooping – and pledge that it will cease monitoring the political activities of MPs.

Documents on the file run from 1955 until 2006, including six of Mr Locke’s years as a Member of Parliament.

“We need more than the SIS’s assurance over the weekend that it is not ‘actively investigating’ any current MPs,” said Mr Locke.

This week the Green Party will be seeking assurances from the government that SIS monitoring of MPs has ceased and for new measures to make the SIS more accountable – both to the government and to Parliament. Former Prime Minister Helen Clark, who was the Minister in charge of intelligence services from 1999 to 2008, claims she didn’t know the SIS was monitoring Mr Locke’s activities as an MP.

“The SIS must promise to close all “Personal Files’ on MPs, like the one they have maintained on me. Such files are specifically for people of ‘security interest’, that is, of some danger or potential danger to the state,” said Mr Locke.

“It is outrageous that the SIS kept my ‘Personal File’ going after I became an MP even though none of the file documents from 1955 show any intention to break the law or conspire with a foreign enemy. It was all about monitoring my legitimate political activities – commonly in antiwar groups and those concerned with international human rights.

“The SIS may not have been ‘actively investigating’ me since I entered Parliament, but they were monitoring what I was saying and updating their longstanding ‘Personal File’ on me.

“The SIS must also promise not to monitor and record MPs’ private dealings with constituents, as they did in putting on my ‘Personal File’ material about my discussions with leaders of New Zealand’s Tamil community prior to my 2003 peace-monitoring trip to Sri Lanka.

“For many years I have been promoting greater New Zealand involvement in mediation between the Sinhalese and Tamil in Sri Lanka. It is disturbing that my private preparations for visiting Sri Lanka were monitored and recorded by the SIS.

Mr Locke’s file shows that over the years the SIS particularly targeted the critics of the government of the days’ foreign policy – critics who by and large history has vindicated right. Today few Kiwis would want to think they supported the Vietnam War or apartheid.

“By targeting dissenters on so many issues, the SIS has been undermining the free and open debate we need in a democratic society. New Zealanders will be constrained from participating in dissenting groups if they feel there careers might be endangered by them ending up on SIS files.”

“A fully functioning democracy requires MPs to be able to carry out their mandate from the voters free from any snooping by the state’s spy agencies.”