NZ spy agency broke into foreign embassies on behalf of CIA and MI6, report claims

NZSIS New ZealandThe spy agency of New Zealand broke into at least three foreign embassies in Wellington at the request of the United States and Britain, according to an investigative report by the country’s public radio broadcaster. Radio New Zealand reported on Tuesday that the highly controversial break-ins targeted the Indian High Commission and the Iranian Embassy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A few years earlier, the New Zealand spy agency had allegedly broken into the Czechoslovakian embassy in Wellington.

Radio New Zealand podcast it confirmed the break-ins after “piecing together information gained after months of engaging with multiple sources in New Zealand, Britain and the United States”. According to the broadcaster, the operations were carried out by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) on behalf of its American and British counterparts, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).

The New Zealand agency was also allegedly pressured to carry out the operations by Australia, with which it collaborates as part of the so-called Five-Eyes alliance. For over 75 years, New Zealand has been a member of the partnership, which is also known as the UK-USA Security Agreement. It provides a multilateral framework for intelligence cooperation between the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

According to Radio New Zealand, the break-in at the Indian High Commission in Wellington took place in the 1980s. It was codenamed Operation DUNNAGE and was jointly supported by MI6. After entering the building —which technically constitutes Indian soil— NZSIS spies allegedly took “thousands of photographs” of the contents of codebooks used by Indian diplomats to communicate in secret with their government in New Delhi. These were shared with MI6 and were used by the British to decipher the codes used in diplomatic communications between Indian officials.

The break-in at the Iranian Embassy was carried out sometime in the early 1990s, and was part of Operation HOROSCOPE, which was devised by the CIA. A group of NZSIS spies entered the embassy building and photographed it, while also installing surreptitious listening devices. These devices reportedly remained operational for years afterwards, and enabled the Americans to gather intelligence on Iran, a country they had no formal diplomatic relations with.

The revelations by Radio New Zealand came two weeks after the broadcaster aired a podcast called The Service, which claimed that the NZSIS broke into the Embassy of Czechoslovakia in 1986. The purpose of the alleged operation was to steal Warsaw Pact communication codes, once again on behalf of MI6.

The broadcaster spoke to Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who was New Zealand’s prime minister in 1989 and 1990. Sir Geoffrey said he was never informed about any of the alleged raids. His successor, Jim Bolger, said he “could not recall ever signing any warrants to allow the SIS to break into foreign embassies”. Helen Clark, who served as prime minister between 1999 and 2008, refused to confirm or deny that the NZSIS carried out similar break-ins on foreign embassies while she was prime minister.

In a statement sent to Radio New Zealand, the NZSIS said it was “unable to respond to questions about what may or not be specific operational matters”. The agency added that “the mission of the NZSIS has always been to keep New Zealanders safe, protect our key national institutions and promote New Zealand’s national advantage”.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 01 July 2020 | Permalink

4 Responses to NZ spy agency broke into foreign embassies on behalf of CIA and MI6, report claims

  1. Anonymous XIII says:

    Does “a said”–as used in the 6th paragraph–reflect spook speak?

  2. intelNews says:

    @Anonymous XIII – Wrong link. Fixed. [IA]

  3. J says:

    5-Eyes has been a solid ally of the US for many years. That they offered their B&E services is not unusual…all of the 5’s do it

  4. Chanowitz says:

    Could the leaking of New Zealand’s past five eyes success be the result of pressure on it from it five eye partners to kick it out of the organization. Daily Mail had reported that New Zealand influence from China had become and concern and they were considering ending the relationship. Might this be a way to show this is a mistake.

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