Snowden Accuses New Zealand Of Illegal Surveillance

New Zealand's government finds itself in the spotlight after accusations from Edward Snowden that it is engaging in mass surveillance of its citizens.
Posted at 10:44 AM, Sep 15, 2014

Anyone was hoping for earth-shaking new information with wide-ranging implications to come out of Edward Snowden's video conferenced appearance at a panel in New Zealand Monday night would have been disappointed. 

But the panel did put the New Zealand government under more scrutiny after claims by Snowden that it has engaged in mass surveillance of its population. 

Snowden, along with journalist Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange, and embattled internet businessman Kim Dotcom all spoke at an event Sunday night, hosted by Dotcom's Internet Mana Party. 

The most noteworthy accusation came from Snowden, who accused New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key of helping the U.S.'s National Security Agency with information from the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau's surveillance. (Video via The White House)

EDWARD SNOWDEN, VIA INTERNET MANA PARTY: "You know, there are actually NSA facilities in New Zealand that the GCSB is aware of, and that means the prime minister is aware of. One of them is in Auckland, the other one is in the north of the country."

Dotcom penned an op-ed for CNN where he argued "New Zealand is a slave to U.S. interests" and accused it of abusing its surveillance powers. 

And Greenwald made similar claims earlier in the day...

GLENN GREENWALD, VIA TV NEW ZEALAND: "The GCSB engages in mass surveillance."

Which drew the ire of Key, who appeared on a radio talk show to respond to the Pulitzer Prize-winner with a few choice words. 

JOHN KEY, VIA NEWSTALK ZB: "If this loser's going to come to town and try to tell me, five days before an election, staying at the Dotcom mansion ... with his expenses paid by Dotcom, he's doing anything other than Dotcom's bidding, please don't insult me with that."

But despite arguing the event was a bid to boost the Internet Mana Party's numbers ahead of New Zealand's election on Saturday, Key did admit the GCSB had worked on a "mass protection" plan. However, Key says it was later scrapped because he thought it would be too far-reaching. 

Snowden has in the past focused his leaks on the U.S. so New Zealand, a country best known for its exports of lamb, Lord of the Rings and HBO's Flight of the Conchords, seems like an odd choice. (Video via Beef + Lamb New Zealand | New Line Cinema / 'Lord of the Rings: Return of the King' | HBO)

In fact, one columnist, writing for the National Business Review argued Dotcom had ulterior motives for bringing Snowden, Greenwald and Assange together. "The low-point came as Kim Dotcom launched into an infomercial for his company Mega ... It made Dotcom and Internet Mana look manipulative (of the crowd, and Greenwald, Assange and Snowden), and other parties that also want surveillance reform more attractive."

Toward the end of the panel, Dotcom urged attendees to use encrypted software — like that provided by his website — to avoid government surveillance. 

This video contains an image from Takuta / CC BY SA 2.0, Getty Images.