A hearing relating to New Zealand’s first military case of espionage will restart after a year-long delay and will again be heard behind closed doors.
The pre-trial hearing that was adjourned in March last year due to security concerns will continue for the unnamed soldier on Friday.
He faces 17 charges including multiple counts of espionage, attempted espionage, accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose and possessing objectionable material.
The soldier is also answering one charge of doing an act likely to prejudice service discipline or bring discredit to the service, one of negligently failing to perform a duty and four of failing to comply with written orders.
He is accused of being a member of two far-right groups and possessing a copy of the Christchurch mosque shootings video.
However, the hearing will take place in private after Chief Judge Kevin Riordan issued a minute stating media were not to attend.
By law, reporters can be asked to leave a court if security levels exceed a certain threshold, namely when discussions are centred around national security.
The soldier, who has interim name suppression, was arrested in December 2019 after a joint investigation by police and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
The resumed proceeding is to consider an application by the accused, who is seeking an order from the court that a non-party disclosure hearing be conducted.
It relates to the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the information proposed for disclosure was highly classified.
The hearing began on March 30 last year in open court but media were later excluded after a ruling was made that the remainder of the sitting should be held in closed court.
But it was adjourned soon after, as it became evident the recording machinery, and the related processes for recording and retention of the transcript were not in compliance with the protective security requirements applicable to the documents and their content.
“Given the nature of the material involved, it is not appropriate to explain this circumstance in greater detail,” Judge Riordan said in his minute.
“The court remains alive, however, to the principle of open justice and will consider the continued validity and justification for the [closed court] order during the course of the hearing and in any relevant subsequent proceedings.”
The NZDF said in a statement that the proceedings had been delayed by a year as specialised stand-alone stenography devices were acquired from overseas.
The accused soldier will not attend the pre-trial hearing and remains under open arrest.