Historically governments have engaged in spying for political and economic ends.
Nicky Hager and Ryan Gallagher’s articles over the last two days have shown that is still the case for New Zealand. They are clearing away the smokescreen that the spying on Asian and Pacific nations is mainly about tracking down criminals and terrorists.
Hager and Gallagher revealed in the Herald on Sunday that New Zealand was specifically targeting the emails of Solomon Island Prime Minister’s chief advisers, the Cabinet secretary and non-government political players.
Such targeting of leading political figures is likely happening in the other South Pacific nations whose communications are being hovered up by the GCSB’s base at Waihopai.
Pacific leaders are not going to be happy now that it is proven that their most private communications are being comprehensively gathered and analysed.
There’s also a big downside to New Zealand’s association with Australia’s spying on its Asian and Pacific neighbours.
Australia got into terrible trouble when it was discovered to be targeting the phone calls of then Indonesian president Susilo Yudhoyono and his wife. The same was true when it was revealed Australia had been bugging government offices in Timor Leste, to get an advantage in negotiations over the use of oil resources in the Timor sea. Last year the International Court of Justice ruled against Australia over this spying.
Here was a rich country, Australia, using its superior interception technology to screw a better deal for itself out of a poor neighbour, Timor Leste. Is that something New Zealand wants to be associated with?
Yet, as Hager and Gallagher reveal in this morning’s New Zealand Herald, GCSB operatives in our Honiara High Commission were helping its Australian counterparts spy on the Solomon’s mobile phone network in an operation called Caprica.
If you are one of those New Zealanders opposed to our country conducting such political spying on our Pacific and Asian neighbours, please sign the petition I have initiated on the change.org website at this link.