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. Read more of this post

New Zealand spy agency warns of persistent foreign espionage threats

NZSIS New ZealandThe intelligence agency of New Zealand has issued a report warning that the country is being targeted by foreign spies who operate using fake covers. Many of them aim to infiltrate some of the highest levels of the government, according to the agency. The warning appeared in the annual report of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), the country’s main national intelligence organization, which is responsible for intelligence, counterintelligence and counter- terrorism. The NZSIS’ latest report covers the 12 months leading up to June 30, 2016. The unclassified version of the report was presented last week to the New Zealand House of Representatives, which must by law be kept informed about the activities of the NZSIS.

The report warns that “[f]oreign powers continue to conduct espionage activity and other hostile state-sponsored activities, including foreign interference, against New Zealand”. To illustrate this point, the report mentions the case of an alleged “foreign intelligence officer” who entered New Zealand under a “cover identity”, presumably in 2016. The officer approached and met senior New Zealand government officials, including some “with high level security clearances”, claims the report. The undercover officer also came in contact with individuals who worked in “key New Zealand business facilities” and sensitive industries, according to the document. However, NZSIS was able to identify the officer and subsequently contacted all New Zealand government officials that came in contact with the officer. The officials were debriefed and advised to be “cautious in their conversations” with foreign nationals, said the report.

The case study may point to efforts by foreign intelligence agencies to gain insights or manipulate the operations of New Zealand’s government and business community, said NZSIS. However, when asked by reporters, the agency refused to provide further details of the case of the foreign undercover officer. An agency spokesman said simply that the case highlights “some of the security threats that New Zealand currently faces”. The NZSIS is currently in the middle of a hiring spree, after its budget was raised last year. It is estimated that the agency’s staff has increased by nearly a fifth since late 2015.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 16 January 2017 | Permalink

Soviet documents ‘identify New Zealand diplomat as KGB spy’

Bill SutchBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A batch of documents from the so-called ‘Mitrokhin archive’, which were made public late last week, have reportedly identified a former New Zealand senior diplomat as a Soviet spy. William Ball Sutch was born in 1907 and received a PhD in economics from Columbia University in the United States in 1932. Shortly afterwards, he returned to his native New Zealand in the midst of the Great Depression. At around that time he traveled to the Soviet Union, but showed no outward interest in communism. He entered government service, working for several departments, including the Ministry of Supply and the Department of Industries and Commerce, where he rose to the post of secretary in 1958. Prior to that, he had represented Wellington at the United Nations headquarters in New York in the early 1950s. He retired in 1965 as head of New Zealand’s Department of Industries and Commerce, and died in 1975. A year before his death, however, Sutch was the main subject in the most sensational spy scandal in New Zealand during the Cold War. He was arrested in a counterintelligence operation in Wellington while secretly meeting Dimitri Razgovorov, an officer of the Soviet KGB. Sutch, who had been monitored by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) for quite some time prior to his arrest, was charged under the country’s Official Secrets Act. But eventually he was found not guilty after an eventful five-day trial, which took place amidst a media blitz in the Kiwi capital. Now, however, the Wellington-based Dominion Post newspaper says it has acquired copies of internal KGB documents that identify Sutch as a KGB recruit. The Australian-owned newspaper says the documents are part of the massive archive transported to the United Kingdom in 1992 by the late Vasili Mitrokhin. Mitrokhin was a Soviet archivist for the KGB, who painstakingly copied tens of thousands of pages of the spy agency’s files prior to defecting to Britain following the dissolution of the USSR. The latest batch of papers, which were made public at Cambridge University’s Churchill College, indicate that the New Zealand diplomat worked for the KGB for 24 years prior to his 1974 arrest. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #572

David Wise

David Wise

►►New Zealand spy service now welcomes online tip-offs. Ten years ago, the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) introduced a free telephone number that people could ring if they suspected any suspicious intelligence activity. Now the spy service has entered the 21st century by changing its website so the public can provide details online.
►►Book claims Coco Chanel spied for Nazis. Frankly, who gives a damn? Is anyone surprised to hear that yet another member of French high society was pro-Nazi in the lead-up to World War II? It is disappointing to see how many news outlets are going over-the-top with this story, while mostly ignoring the truly important historical revelation of the last few days, namely the declassification of the CIA’s Official History of the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
►►David Wise on Sino-American spy wars. Longtime investigative journalist David Wise, who focuses on the intelligence community, talks to Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman about his new book Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China.

New Zealand investigates ‘suspicious’ Israeli spy activity [updated]

Ofer Benyamin Mizrahi

Ofer Mizrahi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Authorities in New Zealand have confirmed that they investigated a series of suspicious actions by alleged Israeli intelligence operatives, in the days following last February’s earthquake in Christchurch. According to publicly available data, at least three of the 181 people who died in the February 22 earthquake were Israelis. Admittedly, the number of Israeli victims was relatively small, which is why New Zealand authorities were baffled by the Israeli government’s intense concern about the earthquake. On the day of the disaster, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the telephone no fewer than four times with his New Zealand counterpart, John Key, which some New Zealand officials found odd at the time. Even stranger was a subsequent encounter between an armed New Zealand security force and an unauthorized Israeli rescue squad, in the days following the earthquake. The Israeli squad was found roaming in Christchurch’s cordoned ‘red zone’, without an official rescue accreditation by either the United Nations or the New Zealand government. After a brief but tense exchange, the Israelis were escorted out of the ‘red zone’, and the episode led to “intense diplomatic exchanges” between Wellington and Tel Aviv, according to New Zealand media. A possible solution to the riddle came with the discovery in Christchurch of the dead body of an Israeli named Ofer Benyamin Mizrahi. Mizrahi, who died when part of a building fell on the van he was riding in, was found to be carrying at least five different passports bearing his photograph. Read more of this post

Comment: Major changes in Australian, NZ spy agencies

Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
This website has been keeping tabs on the ongoing transformation of New Zealand and Australian intelligence agencies. Recent media reports from both countries indicate that the changes, many of which are still underway, will mark the broadest reorganization in New Zealand and Australian intelligence agencies’ operational focus and mission in over half a century. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #312

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News you may have missed #0244

  • Former S. African spy chief dies. Mike Louw former head of South Africa’s apartheid-era National Intelligence Service (NIS) and later the South African Secret Service (SASS), has died. As deputy director general at NIS, Louw helped facilitate some of the very first meetings between the government of F.W. De Klerk and Nelson Mandela, the then imprisoned leader of the African National Congress.
  • Kiwi spies get augmented cyber-surveillance powers. Reports from New Zealand indicate that new “cyber-monitoring measures have been quietly introduced”, giving the country’s law enforcement and intelligence services increased online surveillance powers. Veteran intelligence observer Nicky Hager describes the changes as “the largest expansion of police and [intelligence] surveillance capabilities [in New Zealand] for decades”.

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Lost notebook reveals plans for New Zealand spy agency reshuffle

Nicky Hager

Nicky Hager

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Plans for a possible radical reshuffling of New Zealand’s intelligence infrastructure were revealed yesterday, with the discovery of a notebook belonging to a government official. The notebook was dropped on a busy Wellington street by an employee of New Zealand’s Treasury Department, who was returning from a classified presentation on the future of the country’s intelligence agencies. It was recovered by Julian Robins, a political correspondent for Radio New Zealand, who proceeded to reveal the notebook’s contents. According to Robins, the government appears to be seriously considering merging the three separate intelligence agencies, which currently operate on different missions, in order to improve synergy and save money. Read more of this post

New Zealand union says intelligence services spying on academics

Dr. Jane Kelsey

Dr. Jane Kelsey

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Back in February, intelNews reported on allegations, subsequently confirmed through declassification, that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) has been keeping files on several members of the country’s Parliament, some of them since they were children. Now the Wellington-based Tertiary Education Union (TEU) has alleged that NZSIS also spies on academics. The allegations follow a request by Dr. Jane Kelsey for the release of her NZSIS files. Professor Kelsey, a prominent scholarly critic of free trade policies, made the request after NZSIS agreed to release the files of several parliamentarians it had been monitoring for a many decades. Interestingly, NZSIS refused to confirm whether it possessed information on Dr. Kelsey. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0008

  • Moderate Virginia Republican is Obama’s leading cybersecurity czar. Time magazine identifies Tom Davis as a leading candidate for the newly created position, citing “sources familiar with the White House’s deliberations on the subject”. Davis served in the House of Representatives for seven terms before retiring last fall. But Ryan Singel, of Wired, points out that Davis is “no friend of privacy”. While in the House of Representatives, “Davis voted repeatedly to expand the government’s internet wiretapping powers, and helped author the now-troubled national identification law known as REAL ID”, reminds Singel.
  • New Zealand spooks spied on high school students. Last February, intelNews reported on revelations that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) has been keeping a file on an elected Green Party parliament Member, Keith Locke, since he was 11 years old. New information shows that NZSIS has been monitoring two other Green parliamentarians, Sue Bradford and Catherine Delahunty, since they were in high school. Moreover, their files remained active until 1999 and 2002, respectively. 
  • US Supreme Court refuses Plame CIA case. The Court declined to take up the case of Valerie Plame, a former CIA agent, who sought compensation after she was publicly revealed to be a secret operative. Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, wanted to sue several Bush administration officials, including former vice president Dick Cheney, over the 2003 revelation. 
  • US Homeland Security said to kill domestic spy satellite plan. A senior Homeland Security official has said that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has decided to kill a controversial Bush administration plan to use satellites for domestic surveillance in the US. The plan first surfaced in 2007, but it has been delayed due to concerns by privacy and civil liberties advocates that it would intrude on the lives of Americans. 
  • US National Security Advisor to visit India. Jim Jones will visit New Delhi at the request of President Obama, in order “to further deepen and strengthen our key bilateral partnership with India” says the White House. He will also be visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
  • Researcher unearths declassified documents on NSA’s history. The documents, obtained by Matthew M. Aid for his new book, The Secret Sentry, confirm that prior to the launch of the first spy satellites into orbit by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in the early 1960s, the Signals Intelligence collected by the National Security Agency and its predecessor organizations was virtually the only viable means of gathering intelligence information about what was going on inside the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, North Vietnam, and other communist nations.  However, the NSA and its foreign partners could collect bits and pieces of huge numbers of low-level, unencoded, plaintext messages.

Are New Zealand secret services spying on elected parliamentarians?

Keith Locke

Keith Locke

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Green Party of New Zealand is a sizeable political coalition representing around 150,000 voters in the country’s parliament. A few days ago, it was revealed that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) has been keeping a file on an elected Green Party Parliament Member since he was 11 years old. The Parliamentarian, Keith Locke, first entered Parliament on the Green Party ticket in 1999. The reported reason for the spying is that Mr. Locke’s parents, Elsie and Jack Locke, both prominent environmentalists, were members of the Communist Party of New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s. Interestingly, NZSIS continued to spy on Mr. Locke even after he was elected to Parliament, even as recently as 2006. His NZSIS file reportedly contains covert photographs of him and notes on “his private work with constituents”. Read more of this post

Comment: Israel Intensifies Information War

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
John Minto is well known in New Zealand’s political circles. In 2005, a documentary on the country’s most influential public figures positioned him firmly within the top 100. Earlier today, Minto accused Israeli military and security agencies of orchestrating cyber-attacks on New Zealand websites, including his own, that are critical of Israel’s ongoing incursion in Gaza. He also said that websites in Britain and elsewhere have had “similar experiences”, which he blamed on “a dedicated unit within the Israeli military which monitors and does its best to close down sites which are effective in organizing opposition to Israeli policies”. Read more of this post

Police spying revelation rocks New Zealand

IntelNews has paid particular attention to domestic intelligence operations conducted against law-abiding protest activity in the so-called “war on terrorism”. The US is hardly the only Western country where intensification of government spying on protest activity has been noted in recent years. During the past few days, political life in New Zealand has been stirred by revelations that the country’s police force has for years used “paid informants to infiltrate protest groups”, including “groups such as Greenpeace, animal rights and climate change campaigners and Iraq war protesters”. Read more of this post