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Govt. king hit on Zaoui turns out to be damp squib

20 February, 2004

Govt's king hit on Zaoui turns out to be damp squib

Green MP Keith Locke says the SIS case against Ahmed Zaoui is as shaky as he has always thought.

Mr Zaoui's lawyers today released a summary of the intelligence service's allegations against him.

"This report just repeats slander that has long been refuted," said Mr Locke, the Green Party Spokesperson on Intelligence issues.

"The Refugee Status Appeals Authority (RSSA) so thoroughly discredited the court cases against Mr Zaoui in Belgium and France that it is incomprehensible that the SIS would have some secret information that would make those convictions sound. Again, why couldn't any information the SIS had on these cases have been provided to the RSSA in confidence?

"Statements that Mr Zaoui's presence would confirm New Zealand's status as a 'soft touch' reinforce our fears that diplomatic interests are being put ahead of human rights. The government seems unwilling to embarrass authorities in France, Belgium and Switzerland by accepting a person unjustly framed in those countries."

The SIS report said "a homemade video of parts of Asia considered to be a 'casing' video" was a point of concern.

"It looks like we are need to be careful about what we video on our Asian holidays, in case we are also locked up without trial for 14 months like Ahmed Zaoui," said Mr Locke.

"Suggestions that he was checking out a mosque in Hanoi possibly attended by Algerian diplomats are absurd. How many mosques are there in predominantly Buddhist Hanoi?

"There doesn't appear to be any good reason why this video wasn't provided to the RSSA when it was making its determination. Given that Mr Zaoui himself did the videoing, it doesn't seem to disclose any 'secret intelligence source', the stated reason for the secrecy to date.

"These documents do nothing to deflect the fact that Mr Zaoui's treatment is a travesty of justice.

"The Immigration Minister should call it quits now, and lift the Security Risk Certificate against Mr Zaoui, which she is entitled to do at any time. After the embarrassment over the deportation of the Sri Lankan girl this week, Ms Dalziel would be unwise to drag out the Zaoui debacle any further."

ENDS

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