Winston Peters Sticks By Herald Treason Allegations
By Alastair Thompson
SCOOP: Winston Peters Accuses Fran O'Sullivan Of Treason
Foreign Minister Winston Peters has challenged New Zealand Herald columnist and reporter Fran O'Sullivan to produce evidence and name the sources who told her he had raised the matter of improving NZ-US bilateral meetings with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during his meeting with her at APEC.
" PUSAN - Foreign Minister Winston Peters made a pitch for closer bilateral relations with the United States in a brief meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at Apec yesterday."
"I have four witnesses, what has she got," Mr Peters told Scoop by phone today.
Mr Peters has accused the New Zealand Herald in general, and Fran O'Sullivan in particular, of treason through their reporting of "lies" about what transpired between himself and Condoleezza Rice at the recent APEC summit in Korea.
Mr Peters said that it is an outright lie that he " made a pitch for closer bilateral relations with the United States" during his meeting with Ms Rice, as reported.
Rather the meeting had merely been an "exchange of pleasantries" and nothing else.
Mr Peters pointed also to remarks in Ms O'Sullivan's 17th November article about an alleged "please explain" meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer:
" His first big outing as foreign minister had earlier come a public cropper when he was made to look a fool after his predecessor Phil Goff revealed the Australian Government had issued a "please explain" over his role."
This too, Mr Peters said, was an outright lie fabricated by the New Zealand Herald correspondent.
Mr Peters said he made his views known to the Herald reporter at the APEC conference after he read her report. She had replied to him that she "had her sources".
Mr Peters challenged her to name these sources and to produce a transcript of the meetings with Ms Rice and Mr Downer.
Asked whether it was perhaps possible that Ms O'Sullivan might have sources on the US side he said he thought that implausible.
Aside from Ms O'Sullivan Mr Peters also had criticisms of the New Zealand media's coverage of the APEC conference in general, objecting to their failure to report on the substance of conference issues, issues such as the avian flu threat and terrorism.
Not pointing at Ms O'Sullivan in this instance, Mr Peters said that on one occasion he had been asked about New Zealand's domestic politics at a meeting with the Thai Foreign Minister. He thought that too was unacceptable.
Asked whether he might just be fueling the fires of criticism of himself – and perhaps helping to sell New Zealand Herald newspapers - through his accusations of treason against an experienced journalist Mr Peters replied that he was merely seeking to set the record straight in the eyes of the public.
Upon his return to New Zealand he would be happy to answer questions on these matters in the house if necessary, he said.
Mr Peters will shortly depart for Europe where he is to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting with the Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Mr Peters indicated that if he is asked further questions about treasonous journalists during the CHOGM visit he does not intend to answer them.