Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

GCSB cleared of illegal spying

GCSB Director Ian Fletcher outside GCSB Headquarters in Wellington. Photo / Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images
GCSB Director Ian Fletcher outside GCSB Headquarters in Wellington. Photo / Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Paul Neazor has cleared the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) of illegal spying on New Zealanders.

Mr Neazor was asked to conduct an inquiry into potential breaches of the GCSB Act after Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge's report on the bureau's compliance with legislation raised concerns about 88 instances where the GCSB had spied on New Zealanders.

"The Inspector-General formed a view that there have been no breaches, although the law is unclear and the Inspector-General recommends amending it", GCSB Director, Ian Fletcher said in a statement.

Mr Fletcher says the Inspector-General found that all of the cases were based on serious issues including potential weapons of mass destruction development, people smuggling, foreign espionage in New Zealand and drug smuggling.

Of the 88 individuals concerned:

# 15 cases involving 22 individuals did not have any information intercepted by GCSB.

# Another four cases involving five individuals were the subjects of a New Zealand Security Intelligence Service warrant and the GCSB assisted in the execution of the warrants. The Inspector-General is of the view that there were arguably no breaches and the law is unclear.

# The Bureau only provided technical assistance which did not involve interception of communications, involving three of the individuals, so no breach occurred.

# The remaining cases involved the collection of metadata, and the Inspector-General formed the view that there had arguably been no breach, noting once again that the law is unclear.

Mr Fletcher said that as previously stated, Police had conducted a thorough check of all their systems and advised that no arrest, prosecution or any other legal processes had occurred as a result of the information supplied to Security Intelligence Service by the GCSB.

"There are two recommendations from the Inspector-General, which are for more precise legislation and some improvement in the precision of the GCSB's paperwork, the latter relating to the recommendations in the GCSB Compliance Review.

"We are continuing to work hard to implement the recommendations about GCSB in the compliance review, and I will be delivering my first report on progress by the end of June," Mr Fletcher said.

- NZ Herald

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