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New Zealand Defense Official Denies Military Spied on Journalist

New Zealand Defense Official Denies Military Spied on Journalist

A New Zealand defense official denies its military spied on a journalist, after reports surfaced over the weekend that the military had collected phone metadata of a McClatchy freelance reporter over his coverage of the treatment of Afghan prisoners.

From the Associated Press:

New Zealand’s acting defense force chief said Monday that there is no evidence the military unlawfully spied on a journalist in Afghanistan who was freelancing for U.S. news organization McClatchy. The statement came in response to a report in the Sunday Star-Times newspaper that the military collected phone metadata to spy on journalist Jon Stephenson, a New Zealander. The paper claimed the military became unhappy at Stephenson’s reporting on how it treated Afghan prisoners.

Also Monday, the country’s Minister of Defense Jonathan Coleman acknowledged the existence of an embarrassing confidential order that lists investigative journalists alongside spies and terrorists as potential threats to New Zealand’s military.

The investigative journalist who first broke the report of alleged spying was Nicky Hager of the Star-Times, who also claimed that US spy agencies assisted the New Zealand military in intercepting Stephenson’s phone calls in an effort to determine his sources, according to MSN.NZ.

An official with New Zealand’s Defense Force however has denied such claims.

From MSN.NZ:

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Acting Chief of Defence Force Major General Tim Keating says any such interception of communications had never been authorised by Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones.

“I have asked the officers responsible for our operations in Afghanistan whether they have conducted monitoring of Mr Stephenson as alleged by Mr Hager and they have assured me that they have not. This includes asking foreign organisations to do this on our behalf,” Maj Gen Keating said.

“We have identified no information at this time that supports Mr Hager’s claims.”

Another New Zealand defense official also addressed the claims in Hager’s report, according to MSN.

Earlier on Monday afternoon, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman issued a statement denying the allegations.

“The Defence Force has assured me that this is not something that they would regard as a legitimate practice. I would be most concerned if this had occurred,” he said, adding “extensive record checks” were being carried out to be sure.

Mr Hager’s story also revealed a Defence Force manual lists “certain investigative journalists” as one of three main “subversion” threats, which qualifies them for surveillance, alongside foreign intelligence services and organisations with extreme ideologies.

Dr Coleman said he thought the reference to investigative journalists was “inappropriate and heavy-handed”, and he wants it removed.

The claims come amidst continued debate in the US over the NSA domestic surveillance program recently revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, as well as the Obama administration’s handling of leaks.

In May, Attorney General Eric Holder met with several news outlets to discuss guidelines for journalists in leak investigations, after it was revealed the justice department had targeted the phone records of reporters at outlets that included AP and FOX News.


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I’m unclear why we care what the New Zealand military does.

assemblerhead | July 29, 2013 at 11:59 am

Look at NZ is doing with ( MegaUpload / Kim Dotcom, a.k.a. Kim Schmitz ). ( Hollywood / MPAA / RIAA ) are running this case.

First, they seized the servers with no warrant or evidence.
Second, froze all funds, even those needed for a Defense Council.
Third, had all info / files on the servers destroyed.
( That was the evidence for Hollywood’s case!!! )
Fourth, botched the warrants / extraction request for a hand over of Dotcom.
Fifth, tried using info from NZ’s Spy Service to influence NZ’s courts. It was illegal for NZ to Spy on its own citizens.
Sixth, now using delay tactics to keep a failed criminal case in limbo forever. No right to a timely trial either.

At one time NZ was blessed with liberty, now being converted to a Police State. Does this sound familiar?

At one time NZ gave the Fourth Estate some measure of respect. Now they are considered a “Terrorist”. Does this sound familiar?

Thanks for writing about goings-on down here in lil ol’ NZ.

USA should care because NZ gathers S.Pacific intelligence and shares data with the USA. I don’t know specifics, but I’m sure USA is keen to know what, oh, say a country like China might get up to… or even N.Korea.

doncha think?

A great NZ freedom patriot who does speaking tours in the USA is Trevor Loudon, fyi.

He’ll tell you why NZ and all free countries need to care about keeping the USA a beacon of hope for the planet.

ex-Chicagoan, off to work now… cheers

BannedbytheGuardian | July 29, 2013 at 11:27 pm

I sort of tried to look at this Dotcom thing in NZ.

However the guy was too fat & I did not want to look at his pic.

Yes I am shallow .