The accusations by Glenn Greenwald were based on evidence
disclosed by former U.S. National Security Authority contractor
Edward Snowden that Key's center-right government planned to exploit
amended spying laws to sharply widen domestic spying.
Greenwald said the NSA documents showed New Zealand's electronic spy
agency took the first steps towards the surveillance in a project
dubbed 'Speargun', by tapping into an undersea telecoms cable into
the country, while waiting for the legal authority to do so.
"Phase one entailed accessing that cable, tapping into it, and then
phase two would entail metadata probes," Greenwald said on Radio New
Key rejected the charges as "absolutely wrong", and said a business
case put up by the agency, the Government Communications Security
Bureau (GCSB), early last year aimed at mass cyber protection, but
was turned down by his government.
"There is not, and never has been, a cable access surveillance
program operating in New Zealand," Key said in a statement, as he
released several declassified papers to back his position.
"There is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New
Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB."
Snowden's material can be accessed at:
New Zealand law provides that the GCSB, which conducts electronic
surveillance and is part of the "Five Eyes" surveillance network
along with the United States, Britain, Australia, and Canada, can
only spy on New Zealand citizens if requested by a domestic law
enforcement or intelligence agency.
Key said Greenwald, who was brought to New Zealand by millionaire
internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, was being used to try to influence
voters ahead of the election.
Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the United States on charges
of internet piracy, copyright breaches, and money laundering, has
paid for Greenwald's trip to New Zealand.
[to top of second column]
Greenwald appeared at a public meeting of more than 1,000 people
organized by a political party being bankrolled by Dotcom, at which
the ebullient German had promised revelations damaging to Key.
Snowden and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange addressed the meeting
through video links.
New Zealand media said the revelations involved an alleged email
between a Warner Brothers film studio executive and the Motion
Picture Association of America (MPAA), suggesting Key colluded with
them to allow Dotcom to settle in New Zealand so that it would be
easier to detain and extradite him.
Warner Brothers and the MPAA said the email was a fake, and Key
said he made no such comments to the film executives.
Controversy around Dotcom's arrest and the protracted ongoing
effort to extradite him, as well as charges of illegal spying, have
dogged Key's government over the past two years.
In the past month links between his government and right-wing
bloggers have prompted separate accusations of dirty tricks against
But Key, largely unscathed in opinion polls, remains the favorite
to gain a third consecutive term, although he is likely to need the
support of minor parties to secure a majority. <NZPOLL>
(Reporting by Gyles Beckford and Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Clarence
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