Claims that Australian embassies are involved in
intercepting calls and data across Asia will be causing
"anxiety and concern" for New Zealand's GCSB and its partners
in the United States-led "Five Eyes" intelligence group, a
former GCSB adviser says.
Australian embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and
Dili, and high commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby
operated surveillance collection facilities, in many cases
with diplomats unaware of them, Fairfax Media reported
Some of the details are in a secret US National Security
Agency (NSA) document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden
and published by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.
The document reveals the existence of a signals intelligence
collection programme codenamed "Stateroom" conducted from
sites at US embassies and consulates and from the diplomatic
missions of intelligence partners in the so-called Five Eyes
intelligence gathering and sharing network, including
Australia, Britain and Canada.
New Zealand was not named in the leaked document but while
intelligence analyst Paul Buchanan said he had no knowledge
that New Zealand embassies were involved, it would be
"farcical" to assume this country didn't contribute.
"We simply cannot discount the possibility that as a member
of Five Eyes, with all of the responsibilities and rights
incumbent in that arrangement, that the New Zealand embassies
in certain strategic quarters of the world would not fulfil
the same functions as the US embassies, the Canadian
embassies, the UK embassies and high commissions and the
Australians. To me it would seem farcical to think one of the
five is somehow innocent and wonderful and doesn't engage in
such things while the other four do."
Massey University lecturer and former senior adviser to the
GCSB Damien Rogers was unwilling to comment, beyond saying he
was surprised to hear the Stateroom codeword and location of
associated sites being bandied around in the media. "It would
be cause of anxiety and concern for the directors of those
five agencies of the UKUSA [Five Eyes] agreement."
Author and analyst Nicky Hager said he'd never heard of New
Zealand embassies being involved, but "embassy collection"
work had been done by the spying agencies of the other four
countries in the Five Eyes for some time. "There's been
information coming out about this for the last 20 years or
so." A spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key said: "We do
not comment on security or intelligence matters."
The document leaked by Mr Snowden says the Australian Defence
Signals Directorate operates Stateroom facilities at
Australian diplomatic facilities. "They are covert, and their
true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic
staff at the facility where they are assigned," the document