Agency probes New Zealand spy operations in South Pacific

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WELLINGTON – New Zealand’s watchdog over country’s spy agencies launched an investigation on Thursday into claims electronic surveillance agency illegally spied on New Zealanders across South Pacific.

probe followed a series of revelations by a local newspaper and .S.-based a news site Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) conducted “full-” surveillance on Pacific .

This allegedly included targeted spy on e-mails and other communications of politicians.

But, it might also have illegally netted the communications of New Zealanders living and working Pacific .

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Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, said she would start an inquiry into complaints over alleged interception of communications of New Zealanders by the GCSB.

“The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities.

“The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]

“There was also a clear need provide as much factual information the complainants, and the wider public, as possible,’’ she said.

She said for reason, she had decided to also bring forward and expand the relevant parts of an ongoing review and audit of GCSB procedures and compliance systems.

The opposition Green , which made one of the complaints to Gwyn’s office about the spying, welcomed the inquiry, saying the allegations were very serious.

“The documents that were released show systemic spying on New Zealanders who were working or traveling the South Pacific.

“There have been over 1.6 million visits by New Zealanders to the Pacific since 2009.

“All of those people deserve to know whether they were spied on,’’ Green co-leader, Russel Norman said.

Norman also called on Prime Minister, John Key, who has ultimate responsibility for the spy agencies to “come clean on what the activities of the GCSB were and how much he knew.”

The revelations were based on materials supplied by .S. National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden and showed New Zealand spy agencies operated surveillance on friendly countries the Pacific and Asia.

However, it was revealed the GCSB had also monitored e-mails.

It also revealed Internet traffic about diplomats vying for the job of -General of the World Trade Organisation during Trade Minister Tim Groser’s failed campaign for the post. (Xinhua/NAN)