Twelve everyday Kiwis have been warned to keep the state secrets they will hear during the trial of New Zealand's former top military attache to the United States.

Alfred (Fred) Keating, who was one of the country's highest-ranking officers, is accused of planting a hidden camera inside the toilets of the New Zealand embassy in Washington DC.

The 59-year-old is charged with attempting to make an intimate visual recording of another person at the diplomatic building between July 26 and July 28, 2017.

His trial began in the Auckland District Court yesterday.

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But before proceedings began today Judge Robert Ronayne warned the jury about some of the evidence they would hear during the two-week trial.

"For reasons of national security I have made some orders suppressing from publication portions of the evidence that you'll be hearing," he said.

"That's to do with the fact there's going to be evidence about the Washington embassy and more particularly the layout of the embassy."

Judge Ronayne said it was "terribly important" that no classified material or court documents were taken home by the jurors and nothing discussed outside of the jury room.

A witness' identity has also been suppressed by Judge Ronayne for national security reasons.

Alfred Keating is accused of attempting to make an intimate visual recording of another person at the New Zealand embassy in Washington DC. Photo / Supplied
Alfred Keating is accused of attempting to make an intimate visual recording of another person at the New Zealand embassy in Washington DC. Photo / Supplied

Keating, a former commodore, was serving as the senior defence attache in Washington in 2017.

On July 27 of that year, a hidden camera was found in a unisex bathroom on level three of the embassy, where Keating was stationed.

It is alleged the former commanding officer of the Devonport Naval Base planted the small covert camera.

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Crown prosecutor Henry Steele yesterday alleged Keating placed the camera to film his colleagues at the embassy.

"This was not an act of espionage," he said.

Steele added there was "extremely strong scientific support" that male DNA found on the memory card of the camera originated from Keating.

Keating's lawyer Ron Mansfield, however, said the Crown's case was circumstantial and weak.

"The evidence doesn't tell you who did it and it certainly doesn't tell you it was Mr Keating," Mansfield told the jury.

Keating enjoyed diplomatic immunity while in Washington which meant New Zealand retained criminal jurisdiction over any offence committed in the US, Steele said.

The former top naval officer pleaded not guilty last March and two days later resigned from his post in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

The military leader from Northland had a more than 40-year career, and was the face of diplomacy, negotiating and strategy for the NZDF to the US.

He served as New Zealand's naval attache and senior technical officer for the navy to the US from July 2003 until December 2006, and was also previously the Assistant Chief of Navy at NZDF headquarters in Wellington.

Alfred Keating was a commodore and one of the navy's highest-ranking officers. Photo / Supplied
Alfred Keating was a commodore and one of the navy's highest-ranking officers. Photo / Supplied