Activist considers legal action against GCSB

By Abby Gillies

Valerie Morse. Photo / File / Andrew Labett
Valerie Morse. Photo / File / Andrew Labett

A political activist is considering legal action against the national spy agency for refusing to reveal if she has been under surveillance.

Valerie Morse, one of the 17 people arrested in the Urewera raids, is requesting details from the Privacy Commissioner about whether she was spied on by the Government Communications Security Bureau and what information is held about her.

The GCSB had refused to tell her whether she had been spied on, she said.

At present it is illegal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealand residents, and a report released last month on the Government's spy agency showed as many as 88 people may have been monitored unlawfully.

Ms Morse believed her background as an activist for more than 10 years including anti-war and anti-genetic engineering protesting could have made her a target for surveillance.

"Those people who have been illegally spied on by the GCSB at the very minimum deserve to know whether they have been the subject of surveillance," she told Radio New Zealand today.

"At the very least these people have been subject to criminal offending by the state, they've had their human rights violated and they deserve to be able to seek some sort of remedy for that," she said.

If the Privacy Commissioner could not help her get the information she was seeking, she would take court action against the GCSB and would consider representing the other 88 people who may have been illegally spied on by the agency, she told RNZ.

She noted internet mogul Kim Dotcom's case against the GCSB, saying it showed the courts are not willing to put up with this "nonsensical national security kind of caveat they're trying to invoke".

Ms Morse wanted those responsible for spying fired and the GCSB closed down.

"Potentially that's not a realistic remedy but we need to get a lot more life and air into the GCSB and the workings of that agency."

GCSB director Ian Fletcher told RNZ in a statement that to confirm who or what the agency might have been investigating or not would potentially identify law enforcement or national security priorities.


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