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Is the GCSB ‘trade team’ spying on NZ's TPPA ‘partners’?

24 March 2015

For immediate release

Is the GCSB ‘trade team’ spying on New Zealand's TPPA negotiating ‘partners’?

‘The latest revelations about the GCSB pose a stark question: is the GCSB’s “trade team” spying on governments with whom New Zealand is negotiating international deals, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)?’, asked University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey.

The following facts put the burden of proof on the government to show they are not:

• The GCSB has a specialist ‘trade team’ whose existence apparently preceded the project to spy on Tim Groser’s rivals for the position of WTO Director-General.

• The GCSB has been spying on other governments, their political leaders and senior officials, including Pacific Island states and China.

• The GSCB conducts this surveillance, in part, because of its New Zealand’s membership of ‘Five Eyes’ and shares the data it captures with the other governments.

• Three of those partners - Australia, the US and Canada – are also parties to the TPPA negotiations.

• In November 2013 The Guardian published documents from Edward Snowden that showed the ‘customers’ of the US spy agency the NSA included the US Trade Representative. That fact, along with spying on Europe’s political leaders, torpedoed trust in the US-EU negotiations.

• Eight countries negotiating the TPPA are not part of Five Eyes. They include Japan, where the Prime Minister is about to visit to talk with Prime Minister Abe about finalising the deal.

‘If I were the other TPPA countries, especially Japan, I would be demanding direct answers from New Zealand and its Five Eyes counterparts before taking the negotiations any further.’

‘Have they been spied on in their capitals, or when their officials and ministers have attended negotiating meetings, most of which have been held in the US or Australia over the past year?’

‘Is sensitive information about TPPA (or other) negotiations being shared among the Five Eyes group?’ and “Why should we trust you?’

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