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Snowden: New Zealand Spied On Japan, China As A Part Of Five Eyes Member

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

New Zealand’s intelligence agency Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) is carrying out stealth surveillance operations against a number of Asian countries and is also involved in theft of data though sophisticated cyberwarefare techniques. The information came to light when The Intercept and New Zealand’s Herald newspaper published a new set of documents leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The documents are from the year 2013 and they reveal how the GCSB is partnering with the NSA to spy on Asia Pacific countries.

As per the report published by The Intercept, GCSB collects data from about 20 countries including, Japan, China, India, North Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Iran and Antarctica. It is noteworthy here that some of the countries included in the list, including Japan and China, are among the biggest trading partners of New Zealand. Thus it can be said that the intelligence agency is spying on its own partners at the behest of the NSA. The leaked documents also show how GCSB has ramped up its surveillance capabilities over the last few years and how its spying powers now extend beyond the previously reported region of South Pacific Island nations and its surrounding territories.

The report also points out that apart from using conventional surveillance techniques, GCSB is increasingly involved in using sophisticated warfare tactics to extract data from its targets. As per Snowden, GCSB now uses a malware, which is strikingly similar to the WARRIORPRIDE spyware kits used by the NSA and GCHQ; to spy on its targets. The malware allows the spy agency to hack into computer systems, implant malware into them as well as steal data or even redirect it to the NSA or one of its partner intelligence agencies. Even the leaked documents clearly say that GCSB has now acquired WARRIORPRIDE capability that can be used to collect data from ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries.

The report also suggests that GCSB is sharing the intercepted data with NSA and spy agencies of United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. It is no secret that New Zealand is a part of the “Five Eyes” surveillance network which captures and shares intelligence data between its members. By spying on Japan and China, GCSB is providing a valuable service to the NSA which does not have advanced surveillance capabilities in the region.

GCSB, in its statement, said that the agency has a foreign intelligence mandate and its actions are fully endorsed by the government. The agency also declined to comment on the revelations made by The Intercept and Herald but it did say that the agency exists to protect New Zealand and the people of the country. The office of Prime Minister of New Zealand did not comment on the matter but it did release a statement saying that intelligence agencies have contributed a lot to New Zealand’s national security. NSA too declined to respond to the claims made in the report by saying that the agency doesn’t comment on specific foreign intelligence programs.

July 22, 2015

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