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Greens Call For Spy Base Closure

21 January 1999

Greens Call For Spy Base Closure

Three Green Party MPs will attend this weekend's protest at the Waihopai spy base near Blenheim and continue to call for the base to be shut down. The protest is being organised by the Anti-Bases campaign.

Camping with other protesters near the site from Friday evening until Sunday will be Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald and Foreign Affairs, Defence and Disarmament spokesperson Keith Locke. They will be joined by local Green MP Ian Ewen-Street.

"The strong contingent of Green MPs and members at this weekend's Waihopai protest demonstrates the strength of our opposition to this insidious and unnecessary operation," Rod Donald said.

"Spying on the international communications of New Zealand citizens and businesses is outrageous, yet this is exactly what happens at Waihopai, at a cost of $20 million to the taxpayer per year. It is also contrary to our good international relations to eavesdrop on our Pacific neighbours and European trading partners and then pass on their information to America, Britain, Canada and Australia.

"We hope this year's protest will alert more New Zealanders to what goes on at Waihopai and lead to more pressure going on Labour and the Alliance to close it down," he said.

The Waihopai spy base intercepts all international written and voice communications transmitted by satellite and, using an electronic surveillance system known as 'Echelon', sorts through these communication searching for key words or other flags. The eavesdropping activities at Waihopai have been given special exemptions from both the Privacy Act and the Crimes Act.

The protest programme includes a march through Blenheim's business district followed by a spy picnic in Seymour Square at noon. This will feature a Best Dressed Spy Contest. A peaceful protest will be held at the Waihopai spy base at 2.30pm and Rod Donald has arranged with the Base Commander for access for protesters and media up to the inner base compound.

At 8.00pm the 1999 Australian TV documentary 'Big Brother is Listening' will be screened at the Community Trust Centre in Blenheim (entrance off High Street car park).

Ends

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