PM tight-lipped on Russian spy scandal
Wed, 25 Jul 2012 6:11p.m.
By Patrick Gower
New Zealand's role in an international spy network has been exposed after a Canadian double-agent was caught passing secrets to Russia.
The Canadian spy, Jeffrey Delisle, was part of a network including New Zealand’s spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).
Delisle was caught selling state secrets to Russia in an unprecedented case. Prime Minister John Key is calling it a matter of national security, but is tight-lipped about any further details.
“Look I’m just not in a position to either be able to want to make any comment about our security - those things are better left unsaid,” said Mr Key.
Delisle worked as a navy officer at HMCS Trinity - Canada's version of Blenheim Waihopai spy base.
They intercept and share communications, and are part of what's called the Echelon network. Nations in the network include New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
It is classified information from this network that has gone to Russia, in a breach described as bigger than what Bradley Manning gave WikiLeaks.
The GSCB is believed to have hosted a secret conference in February where the security breach was discussed, but Mr Key would not confirm that.
“Well there are meetings from time to time held in New Zealand but I can't confirm whether there was one earlier in the year,” he said.
Delisle is charged with passing information over a five-year period and faces a life sentence.
Russian diplomats are reported to have been recalled from Canada, but Mr Key will not say if he will raise concerns with Russian president Vladimir Putin at APEC in Russia in September.
“I’m not going to go into what I discuss with other leaders - its just not appropriate,” he said.
With the breach described in some reports as "very wide", it seems inevitable New Zealand's spying activities have been compromised.
However embarrassing public leaks like WikiLeaks seem unlikely as the information is in the hands of Russian agents.
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25/07/2012 7:46:49 p.m.
Haha i like how 3news titles this article "russian spy scandal" when the only scandal is that new zealand goverment and secert agencies are taking part in international spying, secert meetings and its not hard to imagine there guilty of domistic spying.... on there own citizens to ahhh locate and identify dissents of the state, watch out you maybe terroist hahaha
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