New Zealand is spying on some of its closest Pacific neighbours and passing the information on to the United States, according to documents released by the fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The documents show New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau intercepts email, phone and social media communications from countries like Fiji, Solomon Islands and Samoa, then sends the information on to the US National Security Agency, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Investigative journalist Nicky Hager, who’s been involved in the release of the Snowden documents, says the scale of New Zealand’s surveillance in the Pacific has changed since 2009.
‘They’ve gone from some selected targeting of the South Pacific states and other targets, to a new stage where they just hoover up everything,’ he told Radio New Zealand.
‘They take every single phone call, every email and they go straight off into databases, which are US NSA databases.’
Hager says the countries in the Five Eyes alliance, of which New Zealand is part, ‘are literally trying to spy on every country on earth’.
‘The reason we spy on those little Pacific countries and help the Americans when they’re in fishing agreements and trade agreements is not because New Zealand cares; it’s something we can take to the table to belong to the club,’ he said.
‘We’re selling them out for no better reason.’
Labour leader Andrew Little said he was ‘stunned’ by the breadth of the information being collected by the GCSB.
Snowden’s documents, which are held by Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept website, have been released to Hager in collaboration with three major New Zealand newspapers.
On Wednesday, prior to the release of the documents, prime minister John Key wouldn’t reveal details about who New Zealand spied on or why.
‘But I can tell you that we do gather information; we have over successive governments, across a range of different places, but we do that for really, really good reasons,’ he told reporters.
Mr Key also dismissed Hager’s involvement in the release of the Snowden files, referring to his most recent book Dirty Politics.
‘Last time he came out with all this stuff he was categorically wrong. He’ll be wrong this time as well.’