Suggestions NZ spies on Pacific neighbours
Documents suggest New Zealand spies on Pacific neighbours on behalf of US.
A New Zealand journalist, Nicky Hager, says New Zealand's spying on small Pacific Island countries creates a gross disadvantage for small countries when it comes to regional negotiations.
Nicky Hager has analysed documents released by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden which suggest that New Zealand collects all electronic communication on behalf of the United States.
Mr Hager spoke to Koroi Hawkins.
NICKY HAGER: The reason that New Zealand spies on its Pacific neighbours is not because we hate those countries or because we don't care about those countries because lots of New Zealanders are neighbourly. They are actually just selling them out because that is there way of being part of the American big game, of being part of the alliance. In other words, in a way it is worse because it is selling out your neighbours so that you kind of buy your way into the big time intelligence alliance. By doing your bit and it happens to mean spying on your neighbours.
KOROI HAWKINS: How specific can they get with this information from the networks from the satellites?
NH: Well the first thing I should say, because it is not my job to create needless fear, is that most people in the Pacific are not being spied on. When someone sends an email to their aunty in New Zealand nobody is reading that email. Most people aren't spied on but what these systems do is they just take, they don't just tap into this Prime Minister or that public servant. They just take the whole communications links, so potentially they can get everything going between the different countries. They could just get everything. But the way it works is that while that is possible, the stuff that they actually see is things where they put a particular instruction. They put in the name of an official or the name of a Prime Minister or the name of a fishing agreement or something. And anything that has got those words in, or someone's email address they might put in. Everything with those particular words in gets pulled out of the flow of communications and gets sent off to the communications staff to read. So while they are sort of spying on everyone in this High Tech space age way, in practice they are only actually reading the staff and snooping on people who they particularly want to target for political or economic reasons usually.
KH: And if they want to target someone they can do that having had all this data with them?
NH: Yeah, and again because I don't want to cause unnecessary, unrealistic fear. What we are talking about is spying between countries. The thing that New Zealand does is things passing through the satellites. So if somebody calls from one part of Fiji to another part of the same island it just goes through the local phone network and that is not what goes through the satellite and so that won't be picked up when they intercept the satellite. But if you happen to be, if you are communicating one country to another that is when they can get it if they want to.
KH: So if it is, if this spy station is all about satellites what happens with countries that are, as no more and more countries in the Pacific are sort of going for undersea cables and submarine cables. What happens with those cables?
NH: That's been causing the New Zealand spy agency great headaches. They are not happy because it used to be that they could get all the South Pacific countries by spying on the big satellites above them. But so far I think it's Fiji and Tonga and a couple of other countries I don't remember now, have moved to undersea cables and a lot of their communications go through that cheaper route rather than satellite and New Zealand cant get those automatically. The unfortunate thing is those cables often go through Hawaii and Hawaii is actually the home of one of the main American spy headquarters and so they might get caught somewhere else.
KH: Now to wrap this all up for the Pacific Countries what does this mean?
NH: I think if I was living in one of those countries, I would, I would, it would be a horrible shock to me to realise that New Zealand is running two foreign policies at once. One foreign policy says you are our closest neighbours, we share with you, we are a benevolent big friend. And there is this other foreign policy which is selling out the countries. Which personally I think is a wrong thing to do. But it is kept completely secret so no one knows it is going on. So there's these two tracks going at once, the friendly track and the " We spy on you and give it all to the Americans and the British because that helps us to buy favor in Washington and London." Now if I was in the Pacific I would say, " Why are you doing this New Zealand? Why do it, we don't spy on you. You know, you don't need to know our secrets you are much more powerful than us." I would be saying, " Just don't do it." And so that is one of the reasons why, I suppose that this is the basic reason why I am prepared to work on this. Because people have got a right to know these things. If you don't know it you can never talk about it you can never decide you don't like it and you can never complain. And once people have read this and actually discovered that it is not made up and it is real stuff and it is what is going on I hope they will make a big noise about it. Because once people know things then you do have a chance of changing it.
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