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SIS allegations too serious to ignore, says Locke

21 November, 2004

SIS allegations too serious to ignore, says Locke

Green MP Keith Locke is calling for an inquiry into the Security Intelligence Service following claims from former agents that it has been spying on Maori organisations, including the Maori Party.

"The accusations in today's Sunday Star-Times are too serious to sweep under the carpet," said Mr Locke, the Green Party's Security and Intelligence spokesperson.

"If true, they show the SIS is going way beyond its legal mandate and is engaged in political harassment. The SIS has no justification in spying on Maori organisations whose only crime is to disagree with government policies.

"Maori groups legitimately seeking international support for their cause also appear to have been under surveillance. Does this mean that all protesters, not just Maori, and all political parties that dissent with the Government are now regarded as 'fair game' by the spymasters?

"If today's report is accurate, little has changed since Muldoon's time, when the Prime Minister released an SIS list of anti-Springbok tour protesters.

"Now, like then, it seems the SIS operatives are being asked to get 'dirt' on dissenters. That is particularly distasteful in a country that takes prides in its democratic traditions of openness and accountability.

Mr Locke called on the Government to institute an independent investigation of what New Zealand's intelligence services were up to, along the lines of the inquiries that have taken place in other countries in the wake of the Iraq war.

"The present accountability mechanisms are not working," said Mr Locke. "There is no evidence that the Prime Minister or the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security knows what is going on, and the Intelligence and Security Committee in Parliament has only met for three hours since the last election."

ENDS

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