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State sponsored spying could be more widespread

Auckland, Monday 28th May, 2007:

State sponsored spying could be more widespread

Greenpeace says it's concerned Solid Energy isn't the only State Owned Enterprise spying on community groups. It has been revealed that Solid Energy indirectly hired spies to infiltrate a community group campaigning against it. The company employed private investigators Thompson and Clark, who in turn paid students to spy.

Greenpeace says a news report last year showed the same private investigators were employed by Mighty River Power, another State Owned Enterprise, which at the time was seeking consent to re-fire the Marsden B coal-fired power station in Northland.

Greenpeace actively opposed the consent.

Following the news report last year, Greenpeace and several of its individual campaigners formally requested that Mighty River Power release all information it had on them, including any gathered by a private investigator.

Mighty River Power has refused to do so and complaints on this refusal are currently being considered by the Privacy Commissioner and the Ombudsman.

"The fact that Thompson and Clark have infiltrated other community groups is concerning, and raises the question of whether spying is becoming a regular way of doing business for publicly owned companies," said Greenpeace Executive Director, Bunny McDiarmid. "Mighty River Power are refusing to tell us what information they have on us or how it was gathered.

"It's a very serious attack on democracy for the Government through its State Owned Enterprises to sanction the infiltration of a community group. Not only is it a shocking waste of taxpayers money, but it is also unethical and we would be surprised if the public would think it acceptable.

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"The Government should be taking this matter extremely seriously and we urge the Minister for State Owned Enterprises to launch an investigation into the full extent of spying by publicly owned companies on community groups and stomp out the practice."

In the early 1980's Greenpeace was infiltrated by a French Government spy, Christine Cabon, which culminated in the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 killing one Greenpeace crew member.

ENDS

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