New Zealand Prime Minister denied internet cables tapped by NSA

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John Key categorically ruled out any access of internet cables in New Zealand during questions about a visit from an engineer from the United States’ National Security Agency.

The specific denial runs head on into a specific claim by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who says NSA documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden show the internet cable was tapped.

The documents are due to be released today on The Intercept news site which Greenwald co-founded.

The cable-tapping claim was raised by the Herald last month after the discovery of a visit by an NSA engineer to a GCSB base near Blenheim in February 2013. US Audit Office documents recording expenses paid by non-US taxpayers revealed the visit, describing it as a visit to set up a “Special Source Operations” site.

The SSO is the division of the United States’ National Security Agency which carries out cable tapping and collection of vast amounts of data from internet switching point. The data is used by NSA tools including X-Keyscore which is capable of sifting through the vast amounts of collected information to spy on individuals.

Greenwald told Radio NZ’s Morning Report NSA documents showed the GCSB programme was underway and “phase one” involved accessing the underwater internet cable which connects New Zealand to the rest of the world. “Phase two” was the change in spy laws — which happened last year — which would mean it was legal for the programme to go ahead.

“Phase one entailed accessing that cable, tapping into it and then phase two would entail metadata probes – the sweeping up of large amounts of metadata indiscriminately in order to troll through it and analyse it and find out who New Zealanders are talking to,” he said.

Greenwald says he will produce documents to prove cable-tapping went ahead at the Kim Dotcom-organised “Moment of Truth” at the Auckland Town Hall tonight.

At the time, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister told the Herald that questions about the SSO visit appeared to be about “a cable access programme”.

“We can categorically state that there is..

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