New Zealand spying on Pacific allies for ‘Five Eyes’ and NSA, Snowden files show

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New Zealand is spying indiscriminately on its allies in the Pacific region and sharing the information with the US and the other “Five Eyes” alliance states, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The secret papers, published by the New Zealand Herald, show that the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) collects phone calls and internet communications in bulk in the region at its Waihopai Station intercept facility in the South Island.

Since a 2009 upgrade, Waihopai has been capable of “full take” collection of both content and metadata intercepted by satellite, the documents showed. The data is then channelled into the XKeyscore database run by the US National Security Agency, where it also becomes available to agencies in each of the “Five Eyes” countries: the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

A leaked NSA memo credits the GCSB with providing “valuable access not otherwise available to satisfy US intelligence requirement”.

The papers – published by the Herald as part of a joint reporting operation with New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager and the Intercept website co-edited by Glenn Greenwald – echo similar revelations from the earlier Snowden documents showing that Britain and the US had been spying on friendly neighbours in countries in the European Union and Latin America.

The regional surveillance conducted from the base covers Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. New Caledonia and French Polynesia, both French overseas territories, are also among the listed countries. Although Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu are named, much of their data is now transmitted via undersea cable links that are not susceptible to Waihopai’s intercept..

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