New Zealand's secrets from 20 years ago released

Monday, January 16, 2006

The New Zealand Government is to investigate how 20-year-old top secret papers were released. They show that New Zealand was spying on the communications of Argentina, the Soviet Union, East Germany, France, Egypt, Japan, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines, Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, South Africa and even the United Nations diplomatic cables.

The leak came when a copy of the Government Communications Security Bureau's (GCSB) 1985-1986 annual report was found among the personal papers of former New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange. After Cabinet signed off, they were released by Archives New Zealand.

According to intelligence expert Nicky Hager, "This is the most secret report and most revealing one ever to come to the public."

Duty Minister Jim Anderton says the report should have been returned to the GCSB after David Lange had read it. "There'll be some investigation by officials as to how the report was not returned and was just left in the archive like this for people to stumble over... I think there'll be some concern about that."

The report also shows that the United States threatened to spy on New Zealand if New Zealand didn't back down on its anti-nuclear legislation.

In 1984 after the New Zealand government passed laws that stop nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports, the United States announced that it was stripping New Zealand of allied status until United States Navy ships were re-admitted to New Zealand ports.