Key not ruling out whether US spying on Kiwis

Published: 2:09PM Wednesday September 17, 2014 Source: ONE News

John Key is again trying to reassure New Zealanders there's no mass surveillance of Kiwis by our own spy agency.
But he isn't so sure about the Americans, not ruling out today whether the United States is snooping on New Zealanders.
And in another development, former Foreign Minister Winston Peters has come out saying he can confirm New Zealand has spied on other countries.
His claims follow the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, taking the unusual step of backing Mr Key, saying she's unaware of any indiscriminate interception of New Zealanders' data in her work to date.

After the spy revelations at Monday's "Moment of Truth" event, today's statement from the country's spy watchdog gave him a welcome boost.

"It's pleasing to have someone that's completely independent of the political process coming out very clearly and very strongly saying there is no evidence to support there has been mass surveillance by the GCSB of New Zealanders," Mr Key said.

"She is in a unique position. She is in a position to see actually under the covers what's really taken place."

But Glenn Greenwald, the US journalist reporting claims of mass surveillance by Kiwi spies, says Ms Gwyn is being kept in the dark.

"There is a very long tradition of the Five Eyes intelligence agencies hiding from the people who have oversight responsibilities what it is they are doing," Mr Greenwald told ONE News.

Mr Greenwald also says he'll be releasing evidence New Zealand's spying on trading partners.

Mr Peters says the Prime Minister "is blowing in the wind if he thinks that what Greenwald has got is nothing".

Labour leader David Cunliffe says he has high regard for Cheryl Gwyn but added: "I am saying there are still grey areas that she may or may not have been able to cover so far."

Those are grey areas such as the claim from Edward Snowden that he could access data on Kiwis through a Five Eyes spy programme called X-Keyscore.

"I could be looking at a system in Germany, I could be looking at a system in New Zealand," Mr Snowden told Monday's "Moment of Truth" public meeting via video link from Russia.

Mr Key agrees Mr Snowden could have seen information on Kiwis. But he insists it would be targeted information about things like foreign fighters or information obtained by our Five Eyes partners.

And he says the GCSB can't access that data without a warrant.

"The GCSB does not have access to any information through X-Keyscore, or another data base, unless they basically comply with the New Zealand law. And the New Zealand law forbids that."

But could the United States be conducting mass surveillance of us behind our backs?

"Well I don't believe they are. There's a long-standing agreement that we don't spy on each other. I'd be absolutely stunned if they were," Mr Key said.

But he doesn't believe he needs to ask the Americans for an assurance.