Cancelled passports and freedom fighters – what is John Key up to?



milking it


On Monday John Key  admitted that his government had unilaterally cancelled the passports of  “a small group” of New Zealanders, fighting alongside anti-  al-Assad forces in Syria. According to Key, others have had their passports cancelled so as to prevent them reaching Syria.

Key’s actions raise several questions.

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Firstly. Cancelling a New Zealander’s passport essentially renders that person stateless; unable to travel; unable to return home; and liable to arrest. Such a move leaves New Zealanders in an untenable position.

Secondly, it may also be illegal.

Unilaterally cancelling a New Zealander’s pass, without that person being convicted in a Court of Law, deprives that person of the right to travel. A citizen’s right to travel is a basic human right and up to now, only authoritarian governments have controlled such movements.

John Key has effectively lined up with the likes of North Korea and the former Soviet-bloc, in controlling the movements of New Zealanders who have broken no law, and been convicted of no offence.

Thirdly, John Key justifies his actions by stating,

“They obviously don’t put their hand up and say they’re going to be freedom fighters in Syria when they leave. They present a different set of reasons why they might be leaving the country. We have the capacity to cancel a passport if we believe somebody is going into a war zone, for instance, to fight in a way we don’t think is  sensible.”

How patronising of our esteemed Prime Minister that he has taken it upon himself to determine whether or not “somebody is going into a war zone, for instance, to fight in a way we don’t think is  sensible“.

Considering that – up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – successive New Zealand governments have not hesitated to committing New Zealand troops into war-zones, it it a bit late in the day for a Prime Minister to be worrying about “somebody  going into a war zone  to fight in a way we don’t think is a sensible step for them”. Tell that to the  18,500 troops killed in World War One; 12,000 killed in World War Two; 33 in the Korean War; 37 in Vietnam, and others since then.

Fourthly, the sheer hypocrisy of Key’s actions and comments defy belief. Not once has he, nor his predecessors, commented on those New Zealanders who have join and actively served on foreign armies.

Such as New Zealanders serving in the Australian Army;


Australia offers NZ soldiers $250k to swap armies


Note the comment in the above story,

“The NZ Defence Force, meanwhile, confirmed yesterday that it employs a similar “lateral recruitment” process to attract soldiers from around the world. A spokesman said it was “fairly standard practice” for international armies to trade staff…”

And New Zealanders serving in the British Army;


Soldier killed by US friendly fire was a New Zealander in British army


The above story also refers to other New Zealanders serving in other armies,

“He is the fifth New Zealand-born soldier to die in action in Afghanistan.

Two were serving with Australian forces, one with US, and one with New Zealand troops.”

Plus New Zealanders joining the Israeli Army;


Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army


Or the curious case of Tony Resnick, who departed New Zealand under a cloud, and ended up in the Israeli Army.

So there is nothing particularly unusual about New Zealanders taking it upon themselves to enlist in the armies of other nations. Quite a few even end up on battlefields where some are killed

Has John Key ever cancelled their passports?

Is Key  also worried about New Zealanders returning from foreign Army involvement?

“From time to time, we need to track the activities of New Zealanders, we need to be sure of their whereabouts and we certainly need to be clear that if they return to New Zealand, whether they pose a threat to other New Zealanders if they have become radicalised.”

Key has also been reluctant to disclose how many New Zealanders have been affected by this potentially illegal decision. He said “a small group“.

Ali Akil, of Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, has said in a NZ Herald story that he was aware of only two brothers who had been affected – and the cancellation had not been instigated by the GCSB or SIS,

“According to my sources, their parents are the ones who called up and asked for them to be stopped,” he said, accusing Mr Key of “scaremongering and providing twisted information for political gain”.

Ali Akil also added,

“John Key has suggested very few people have [gone to Syria], and mentioned they have gone there to fight against the Assad regime which is actually something that we should honour them for, not strip them of their rights for,” he told Morning Report.

He questioned why Mr Key would “criminalise” those who decide to fight against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which is known to have used chemical weapons against civilians.

“The New Zealand Government has actually sent our own New Zealand soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan to liberate them from dictators, or so we were told. Isn’t it ridiculous to now criminalise those who choose to do exactly the same thing in Syria?”

It is rather strange for Key to be harassing freedom fighters who are wanting to topple one of the worst dictatorships in the Middle East, as it was only last year that Key condemned the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against it’s own people. In fact, Key was reportedly critical of the UN Security Council not doing enough;

Key, who made a stinging attack on the Security Council in his address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, said the resolution did not go as far as New Zealand would have liked in holding the Assad regime to account.

“But it does do the most important job which is set out a programme for how chemical weapons will be collected up in Syria, destruction of those chemical weapons and hopefully a process for ensuring Syrians are kept safe form weapons that should never be deployed from anybody.”

He stated in no uncertain terms;

“This organisation would not also have been a powerless bystander to the Syrian tragedy for over two years if the lack of agreement among the Security Council’s Permanent Members had not shielded the Assad regime.”

Mr Key called for the Security Council to take strong action by passing against Syria for its use of chemical weapons.

“These are war crimes.”

“War crimes”?!

New Zealanders want to fight a regime that has committed war crimes – and Key repays their willingness to oppose  this evil by stripping them of their pass ports, and in other cases, actively preventing them from leaving the country?!

Especially when, on 30 August last year, Key himself voiced support for the United Nations using force against the Syrian regime,


PM won't rule out NZ support for military strike on Syria


He quite clearly said,

“We think that’s the right thing to do but we wouldn’t hold our breath that that would receive the unanimous support that would be required.”

Do I detect the rank, rotting odour of hypocrisy (again) from our Prime Minister?

There is more to this issue than some young men wanting to join a fight to rid the world of a despotic dictator and his bloody regime (and this blogger will not shed a tear with the inevitable demise of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his criminal stooges).

Key obviously has a hidden reason for releasing this information, and I doubt very much if it relates one bit to any so-called concerns for the well-being of these young men.

Key has his own agenda:


It is no coincidence that Key’s press conference and dramatic revelations are taking place during  an election year. I remind the reader of a blogpost I wrote on 30 June, last year;

So what does John Key and his National Ministers do? Do they, make the law more explicit that the GCSB “may not authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident”?


Instead National has amended the law – in effect  legalising the illegal “88 cases identified as having a question mark over them since 2003” (source) through a new  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

National is also enacting the new amendment  – under Urgency – which will give the GCSB the right to now spy on a person  who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Remember – there is no Cold War. That ended 24 years ago.

But you wouldn’t think so.

Instead, Key now makes references to other “threats” to New Zealand,

  • There are people within our country who have links to offshore terrorist groups.” –  John Key, 15 April 2013
  • …covert attempts to acquire New Zealand’s science and technology for programmes related to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems.” – John Key, 15 April 2013
  • This shows New Zealand’s public and private organisations are facing increasing risks of cyber intrusion which could compromise their operations and could result in the theft of valuable intellectual property.” – John Key, 7 May 2013

When asked to be specific about these claims, Key replied,

I cannot tell New Zealanders everything our intelligence agencies are doing, or what the details of their operations are.” (Source)

And as reported, Key was less than forthcoming about other matters relating to the GCSB’s activities,

He refused to say what the support was that the GCSB provided to the Defence Force, police and SIS.
“I’m not going to go into the details of what they do.”

He also refused to say whether information on New Zealanders was passed on to foreign agencies.

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

But he did admit that not one of those 88 New Zealanders spied on by the GCSB has been prosecuted for any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Not one, as Key admitted,

Police have conducted a thorough check of all their systems. Police advise that no arrest, prosecution or any other legal processes have occurred as a result of the information supplied to NZSIS by GCSB  .”

It is an old, tried-and-tested, simple plan; spook the public using a variant of a reds-under-the-bed bogey-man “threat”, and watch them run into the ballot booth to tick the ‘National’ box.

It worked in 1981, when Muldoon portrayed the anti-Tour protestors as “commies” and a threat to the “Kiwi way of life”.


Will up-coming Edward Snowden revelations refer to New Zealand, including material that is absolutely damaging to John Key’s government?

And is the so-called threat of New Zealanders being ‘radicalised’  in a Middle East conflict, and returning home to wage an implied “Jihad”, a scare-tactic to justify whatever shonkey or illegal activities that the GCSB/SIS/government has been engaging in?


Is this yet another distraction during election year (see #1 above), with more to come?

Because – and here is the point – governments very rarely (if ever) disclose what the SIS and GCSB have been up to.

So – what was the motivation of standing up at a media conference, in front of the entire nation, and telling everyone what our security/intelligence agencies have been engaged in?

There is much, much more to this than Key has let on.

And it has bugger all to do with Al Quaeda bogeymen or a bunch of idealistic young men who want a dictator gone.  Remember – this is John Key we’re talking about.

What was it that  Ali Akil, of Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, said about John Key? He accused…

“… Mr Key of “scaremongering and providing twisted information for political gain”.

It didn’t take long for this immigrant to our country to suss our Prime Minister, did it?





NZ Herald: Australia offers NZ soldiers $250k to swap armies

The Telegraph:  Soldier killed by US friendly fire was a New Zealander in British army

The Jewish Agency for Israel: Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army

NZ Herald: At home with the Mossad men

Radio NZ: Govt cancels passports for would-be fighters

Radio NZ: Prime Minister rejects accusations of racism

NZ Herald: We’ll watch returning fighters, says Key

NZ Herald: Kiwi fighters being misinformed, says Syrian

Fairfax media: Key: Syria deal doesn’t go as far as I’d like

NZ Herald: John Key’s scathing attack on UN failings

NZ Herald: PM won’t rule out NZ support for military strike on Syria

NZ Radio: Syria action ‘may be outside law’

Previous related blogposts

Surveillance laws, Strikebreaking, & Subversive groups







= fs =


  1. I am afraid I must start from the standpoint of one of the last things I want to see in NZ is radical Islamists.
    Open to suggestions as to how we prevent it

    • Thing is, Raegun, were the two brothers “radical Islamists”?

      We don’t know.

      We just have Key’s inference that ‘someone’ might be ‘radicalised’…

      No evidence at all. Just’s Key’s word for it.

      And we all know Dear Leader’s reputation for “truthfulness”…

      • Indeed we do, still to my mind anyone associated with Al Queda is most certainly not a freedom fighter. The reason, I am female and have absolutely zero tolerance of radical Islam, can’t help that I’m afraid

        • @ Raegun – ok, apologies, and understood. I can most definitely see where you’re coming from.

          I haven’t heard that the two brothers are involved with Al Qaeda, though. (I most certainly hope not.)

      • Just had a quick glance to see what it may be about and don’t get me wrong, what is happening everywhere in that vein is less than appealing to me, but at least, so far, in the western world, women are not subjugated to the point of being, for all intents and purposes, non-entities.
        As a female I see a lot of the negative politics as being fairly male-centric, and becoming quite unbalanced.
        Conservatism, the mere word conjours up visions of old men in clubrooms, whisky in one hand, cigar in the other, beginning every sentence with “In my day” or “By jingos”
        But again, as a female I would rather be dealing with those silly old men than radical Islamists, and make no apologies for it

        • Hi Raewyn,

          Take care that your fear is not being cultivated and then manipulated for ulterior motives..

          Perhaps the following might help

          [Clearly these following quotes need to be confirmed by looking at other sources or the court-case records.]

          Excerpts from the script of part three of ‘The Power of Nightmares’

          ” In January, 2001, a trial began in a Manhattan courtroom of four men accused of the embassy bombings in east Africa. But the Americans had also decided to prosecute bin Laden in his absence. But to do this under American law, the prosecutors needed evidence of a criminal organisation because, as with the Mafia, that would allow them to prosecute the head of the organisation even if he could not be linked directly to the crime. And the evidence for that organisation was provided for them by an ex-associate of bin Laden’s called Jamal al-Fadl.”

          Re Jamal al-Fadl:

          “JASON BURKE , AUTHOR, “AL QAEDA” : During the investigation of the 1998 bombings, there is a walk-in source, Jamal al-Fadl, who is a Sudanese militant who was with bin Laden in the early 90s, who has been passed around a whole series of Middle East secret services, none of whom want much to do with him, and who ends up in America and is taken on by—uh—the American government, effectively, as a key prosecution witness and is given a huge amount of American taxpayers’ money at the same time”


          “In reality, Jamal al-Fadl was on the run from bin Laden, having stolen money from him. In return for his evidence, the Americans gave him witness protection in America and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many lawyers at the trial believed that al-Fadl exaggerated and lied to give the Americans the picture of a terrorist organisation that they needed to prosecute bin Laden”


          “SAM SCHMIDT , DEFENCE LAWYER EMBASSY BOMBINGS TRIAL: And there were selective portions of al-Fadl’s testimony that I believe was false, to help support the picture that he helped the Americans join together. I think he lied in a number of specific testimony about a unified image of what this organisation was. It made Al Qaeda the new Mafia or the new Communists. It made them identifiable as a group and therefore made it easier to prosecute any person associated with Al Qaeda for any acts or statements made by bin Laden—who talked a lot.”

          Re Al Qaeda:

          “VO: The reality was that bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri had become the focus of a loose association of disillusioned Islamist militants who were attracted by the new strategy. But there was no organisation. These were militants who mostly planned their own operations and looked to bin Laden for funding and assistance. He was not their commander. There is also no evidence that bin Laden used the term “Al Qaeda” to refer to the name of a group until after September the 11th, when he realized that this was the term the Americans have given it.

          re the ‘sleeper cells’ that were found living in America:

          “DAVID COLE , PROFESSOR OF LAW , GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY : They say “terrorist sleeper cell.” That’s what—they—they call the Lackawanna people a terrorist sleeper cell, the Detroit people a terrorist cell, the Portland people a terrorist cell. But when you look at the details, the facts just don’t support that, and they have not proved that any group within the United States has plotted to engage in any terrorist—uh—activity within the United States in all of the cases that they’ve brought since 9/11.”

          [I have added the emphasis in bold]

  2. Surely this is about justifying our involvement in the “Five Eyes” arrangement.
    I understand the right to remove someone’s passport but not that this right should lay in the hands of one individual ie John Key.
    My problem is I have a New Zealand passport and I know for sure he would see me as a “radical” should he choose to remove mine I want to know why and I want the right to appeal.
    How can the MSM allow him to get away with statements like “to fight in a way we don’t think is sensible” What does that mean? what do they think is sensible? fighting against the Syrian regime?
    Wake up New Zealand we are slipping into dangerous territory here.

  3. George Monbiot makes a good point in the Guardian: If George Orwell and Laurie Lee had returned to the UK today after fighting the Fascists in Spain, they’d have been arrested under the Terrorism Act! They would have faced life in prison for “fighting abroad with a political, ideological, religious or racial motive”

  4. If some fool wants to make themselves a target in another countries fight so be it.

    This government has its nose buried far too deeply in the private lives of NZ citizens and residents.

  5. John Key is consistent.

    Whatever US/Israel requires of him and whenever.

    Its a propaganda exercise.

    Well managed with help.

      • According to one of the linked articles the main contributing factor behind the removal of the Passport was the family of the two people involved. That sort of puts a kibosh on the idea there is something sinister behind this.

          • Sure you can ask. Whether or not the authorities will listen will depend on whether they perceive what your daughter is doing is detrimental to New Zealand’s long term security.

  6. Frank I agree that passports should not be cancelled for the reasons Key has outlined. To me this is a simple matter of individual liberty. If I want to go and fight someone else’s war as a private individual (and the Syrian conflict is anything but straight forward anyway), I should be allowed to, as long as I am not breaking any laws in doing so. What is concerning is that it seems that the power to limit peoples movements is not limited to states such as North Korea. The Australian Passports Act 2005 allows for “the Minister for Foreign Affairs to refuse or cancel an Australian passport where the competent authority forms a reasonable suspicion that the person is likely to engage in harmful conduct and that, by denying a passport, the harmful activity might be prevented.” Whatever ‘harmful activity’ means. I suspect most other countries have similar provisions.

  7. Key is of course acting in New Zealand’s best interests.

    These freedom fighters are needed in NZ to depose his government: the most odious and corrupt regime that has ever blighted our fair shores.

  8. Why does everyone still buy the “worst dictator in the ME” crap mainstream media spew in overwhelming volume. They say the same thing about every oil rich country they invade. Syria was marked for overthrow 15 years ago along with Iran. Doesn’t anybody wonder why it’s one after another like a bloody bank queue? Follow the money … it doesn’t get any easier.

  9. This is more said of John Key to justify the presence and and excessive powers that were given to GCSB and SIS.

    The news which was a year old :

    But John key wants to spread the fears based on “might” and who “we can’t verify if they were fighting with alkaida” and the 2 brothers (who their parents reported them to stop them) who hasn’t left the country to be radicalised yet!

    And finally as contrasted by the Author, compare that to the other NZ fighting around the world for freedoms, to what now we’re alleging to wannabes for Syria.

    On the other hand what or how would you deal with people intending to go there for humanitarian assistance (which is a noble cause) would you also cancel their passports ?

    figure out!

  10. My reading is that Key wants to legitimise more spying from the GSCB by creating a bogey man

    But apart from that, his actions imply that if Key had been Prime Minister in the late 1930s he would have stopped New Zealanders going to fight for the Spanish government against the Fascists.

  11. Oh gosh,

    These “freedom fighters” are fighting the proxy invasion of a sovereign country. They are nothing more than paid mercenaries, financed through the Muslim Brotherhood by the Saudi Royal family and through groups linked to Al Qaeda by US/Israel.

    Al-Assad has 70% support from Syrian citizens, please don’t push the MSM’s war propaganda any further.

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