PM refuses to deny illegal spying claims

Green MP Keith Locke says New Zealanders should be worried about the Prime Minister’s blanket refusal to deny charges that officials here knew something about a spying operation against the United Nations.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation last Friday reported that 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.

“During today’s Question Time in Parliament I gave Helen Clark the opportunity to assure New Zealanders that its security service had not been associated with illegal espionage against the United Nations,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party Spokesperson on Intelligence issues.

“Ignoring Parliamentary accountability, the Prime Minister repeatedly said she didn’t comment on ‘security matters’.

“It is not as if a denial of New Zealand’s involvement would have endangered any legitimate security operation. It would simply have cleared matters up.

“Rightly or wrongly, New Zealand has been implicated in the very serious matter of spying on the United Nations. We have signed up to international conventions that specifically protect the confidentiality of UN communications.

“The ‘no comment’ routine also stops New Zealanders finding out much about Waihopai satellite communications interception station which collects electronic intelligence for American and British partner agencies, and could be used to eavesdrop on UN phone calls,” said Mr Locke.

“I’d like Helen Clark, as a champion of the United Nations, to reassure us of New Zealand’s innocence,” said Mr Locke.

“She should also take the Australian Prime Minister to task when she meets him tomorrow. Three Australian news outlets, the ABC, the Australian, and the Sydney Morning Herald, have all said the Howard government is complicit in the spying on the UN.”