BREAKING: The SIS unlawfully targeted Nicky Hager on behalf of the NZDF

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The Acting Inspector General of Intelligence and Security has upheld a complaint by investigative journalist Nicky Hager against the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service for unlawfully attempting to uncover his journalistic sources.

The complaint related to events that followed the release of Mr Hager’s 2011 book, Other Peoples Wars. That book concerned New Zealand’s military and intelligence activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the first time the likelihood of civilian casualties during Operation Burnham was raised in public.

The official response to the book was that it was a “work of fiction”. However, behind closed doors the New Zealand Defence Force concluded that the leaked material on which the book was based was genuine and started investigating connections between Mr Hager and a possible source.

The NZDF enlisted the SIS to assist them with its investigation. Among other things, the SIS obtained private telephone records of Mr Hager and of an NZDF officer suspected of being the source.

The SIS sought to justify this use of its powers against Mr Hager by claiming that it was investigating espionage. However, the Acting IGIS found that the SIS had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that any espionage had occurred.

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In her report, the Acting IGIS wrote that, “NZSIS provided that assistance despite a lack of grounds for reasonable suspicion that any activity had occurred that was a matter of national secur ity”. She also concluded that she had “been unable to find that the Service showed the kind of caution I consider proper, for an intelligence agency in a free and democratic society, about launching any investigation into a journalists sources.”

The searches proved fruitless. NZDF and SIS were unable to discover any of Mr Hager’s sources and eventually gave up.

Felix Geiringer, a barrister acting for Mr Hager, said that the SIS had used its intrusive investigatory powers against confidential journalistic sources. “This risks harming the flow of important information to the public. It also appears the SIS had no policies in place to protect against this sort of thing happening and there is no suggestion that any are going to be established now.”

“I was relieved to have finished years of trouble after the 2014 police raid on his home”, said Nicky Hager. “I am disappointed to receive more news of more government agencies using intrusive means to try to uncover his confidential sources.

“I would rather get on with my work than fight these fights, but this issue needs to be fixed for the future. I want the SIS to introduce clear policies that will prevent them from targeting media organisations and journalists in this way again.”

Mr Hager has written to the SIS through his lawyer. He has requested a full public admission of their wrongdoing and the establishment of policies to prevent a repeat of such wrongdoing.

12 COMMENTS

  1. NZDF under johnkey was evil and corrupt and literally got away with murder where is muppet- parae he got a cushy few posts overseas and here for turning a bling eye some head need to fly here

  2. Who was PM, and who was head of the SIS when this happened ?

    Does this mean that if a PM or the NZDF identifies a writer as having knowledge they’d prefer them not to have, that that person can be spied on ?

    How come the police have to obtain a search warrant to search, but the NZDF can just get the SIS to ?

    Does this mean that the govt was replacing lawful police process – bypassing the police – and utilising the army instead ?

    Is the SIS under the command of the army ?

  3. At least totalitarian countries like China are clear that they spy on their citizens and have zero respect for anyone’s privacy. Why don’t Western democracies simply just own what we all know they are doing anyway so we can all fully embrace our Orwellian Overlords without the pointless pretence?

  4. Shocking. Great post. In order for the public to believe in democracy and the defence force they need to show they are working for the people and human rights and within the law including free media, not themselves and their own agenda to get off war crimes/atrocities and not be accountable and transparent in their own bungles.

  5. It takes great courage to persevere as a truly independent investigative journalist. In many ways, a thankless task. Total respect for Nicky Hager, and feel that we are lucky to have him.

  6. Nicky Hager is a national treasure. History will judge him well. And thousands of us do already!

    All the condescending, secretive, bullying types at NZDF, NZSIS, GCSB and all those NZ Police Special Units–charged with defending democracy!–that have been pursuing Nicky for their political masters, should hang their heads and go find a proper job.

      • Bert – Nobel Peace Prize for Hager. More than any one else I know of in recent history, he has shone a light on NZ politics, through diligence, meticulous research, and hard work, and undoubtedly has helped curb the sheer filth filtering through the ranks of the National Party and it’s disgusting groupies, which has actually damaged decent people’s lives, and sometimes for no other apparent reason than malevolence, and greed.

        This latest NZDF caper will still contain its own secrets, but it’s now looking to me like the SIS being used as a political weapon, which is also not what it’s for- or is it ?

        Tiger Mountain has rightly said that history will judge Hager well – Hager’s part of the NZ narrative now, in the way that Helen Kelly is too, and we need these good people in our psyche to uplift us – I do anyway.

        Key and English’s dopey knighthoods are worthless – we should give them a few more every year to show them just what pathetic little jokes they are. Knights indeed.

        Crying shame that we’re stuck with Key and no-one else wants him – ideally he’d have slithered away offshore again by now.

  7. All this happened whilst there was a National government and of course there was not a quiver of concern by the now current National Party Leader i.e one Slime-on Bridges(aka Simon Bridges).
    My question to National Leader Bridges is why with all the awful things the National government did to New Zealanders from 2008 through to late 2017 that you did not say anything that would hold National in total criticism???!!!!!!!! Were you too scared to make an opinion or stand up for New Zealanders that say Paula Bennett make an example of???!!!!

    Or were you too obsessed to protecting your own arse to care about what ordinary low income NZers hearing the Double Dipping MP for Dipton telling us we are living beyond our means an MUST experience financial cutbacks was “pontificating” to anyone especially self-serving politicians like yourself was willing to hear and take as absolute Gospel according to St Bill(English)?

    If you, Bridges, make such a song and dance about things this current government has done wrong there where the HELL was YOUR VOICE OF CONCERN when Bill English was Double Dipping? Where was YOUR VOICE OF CONCERN when John Key was sexually harassing human females with pulling ponytails??? In fact WHERE THE HELL HAS BEEN YOUR(BRIDGES)VOICE OF CONCERN WHILST WORKPLACE BULLYING BY BROWNLEE, FOSTER BELL, GILMORE etc.etc.etc was going on??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…..

    WHERE WAS YOUR(Bridges) VOICE of concern when Paula Bennett had no hesitation on making public to the NZ media the names of beneficiaries that criticised your oh so beloved NZ National Party??????!!!!!!!??????????!!!!…. Remember Bridges that in the 90s Paula Bennett was probably as anti-National government as most beneficaries felt at the time.

    But then history has shown to us as to how self-serving Paula Bennett has turned out to be. What a shame she lost touch with the very people she once identified with. And probably all because of greed, money, control and authority.

    Right now the NZ National Party and those associated should hold their heads in shame but I doubt they possess a conscience because when all things considered it all boils down to MONEY and especially how much current and now former National MPs can obtain personally into their various bank accounts where-ever in the world those accounts are held.

    No one is perfect in this world but RIGHT NOW the NZ National Party MPs have achieved the arrogance that merit them no votes at the next general election.

    To breach one persons’ right to privacy even when one or more make critical comment on a politician is the height of arrogance and most likely avaricious for self gain by the politician(s) breaching a private citizen(s) right to privacy.

    If anyone votes for National at the next election and finds their right to privacy and citicism breached by various National MPs then sorry but you have to live with the consequences.

    National destroyed my vote for them when John Key deliberately broke a pre-election promise in 2008. But naturally Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges found no fault with pre-election promises even by their adored John Key

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