Greens want more info on spybase

The Green Party wants more information about the Waihopai spybase to be made public.

New Zealand intelligence agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), yesterday said the base, in Marlborough's Waihopai Valley, was not "a United States spybase in our midst, contributing to torture, war, and the use of weapons of mass destruction and other unspeakable evil".

Director Sir Bruce Ferguson, and his predecessor Warren Tucker, said in a statement the base was totally operated and controlled by New Zealand, through the GCSB as an arm of the New Zealand Government.

It was a fundamental question of New Zealand's sovereign control over its decision-making on matters of foreign policy, they said.

Green Party foreign affairs spokesman Keith Locke welcomed their comments but called for further information to be released.

"It will be disappointing if, having raised New Zealanders' interest in how the system works, our spy chiefs refuse to tell us more."

GCSB's assurance Waihopai did not help the United States to get support for the invasion of Iraq "conflicts with what we know about the five nation communications interception network of which Waihopai is a part", Mr Locke said.

"It is an integrated system whereby the electronic intelligence agencies in the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can extract what they need from the huge volume of information drawn down into the satellite dishes situated in each of the five partner nations.

"There is no way that the GCSB could interrogate the purpose of all the word combinations and phone numbers put into the system by the US National Security Agency to filter the millions of phone calls and texts intercepted at Waihopai each day."

Debate over the base re-ignited last month when a jury found teacher Adrian Leason, 45, Dominican friar Peter Murnane, 69, and farmer Sam Land, 26, not guilty of charges of burglary and wilful damage after they broke into the spybase in 2008 and deflated one of the radar dome covers.

Solicitor-General David Collins yesterday ruled out appealing their acquittal but he may try to sue them for $1.1 million for the damage done to government property.

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