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Waihopai Spybase Protest 2000 - Media Coverage

Waihopai Protest 25 January 2000 - two media releases received via CAFCA.


Blenheim, Jan 22 - About 50 protesters renewed calls for the Waihopai spy station to be closed down in Blenheim this afternoon. Holding a mock spies' picnic with best dressed spy pageant, the protesters poked fun at the secretive nature of the Waihopai base which is about 15km from Blenheim. Spies, secret squirrels and spooks paraded their costumes for onlookers, with the lineup including two MPs, Greens Rod Donald and Keith Locke.

Mr Donald repeated his call for the base to be closed, calling it ``insidious and unnecessary''. He said New Zealand taxpayers paid $20 million a year to eavesdrop on international communications and then pass the information on to America, Britain, Canada and Australia.

The Waihopai station intercepts international faxes, e-mails and phone calls with equipment able to pick out ``keywords'' to monitor desired communications. The Green Party co-leader said the Waihopai spy base was set up under a Labour government in which Prime Minister Helen Clark was a minister. Then prime minister David Lange has since admitted he was not told the extent of what would be done at the base and indicated he would not have been so happy about the proposal if he had known all the facts, Mr Donald said.

He called on the present Labour Government to review the Government Communications Security Bureau that runs Waihopai. This was the least Miss Clark could do at the dawn of a new century where people wanted peace rather than conflict, he said. Greens' defence and disarmament spokesman Keith Locke also called for an inquiry into the Waihopai base. He had attended Waihopai protests for many years and said one of his main objections was how the domestic privacy of New Zealanders was able to be invaded with no real controls.

The international eavesdropping carried out at Waihopai also distorted New Zealand's relations with other countries. By its involvement, New Zealand was seen by European and Asian countries as being part of a hostile economic espionage network. It would not help New Zealand's efforts to expand trade in these areas if we were seen as actively spying on them and passing information to other countries, he said.

Mr Locke said the whole truth about Waihopai had been hidden and there needed to be substantial debate on the issue. He wanted the foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee to initiate an inquiry including public submissions to discuss what benefits, if any, came from Waihopai.

If that was done, the downsides would significantly outweigh any pluses, he said.

CAFCA - Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa


Blenheim, Jan 22 - The Waihopai spy station, near Blenheim, played a part in the genocide in East Timor, according to the organiser of a protest at the base today.

Murray Horton, of the Anti-Bases Campaign, said information intercepted at the Waihopai station was passed on to other countries with links to the Indonesian army.

This information was then used in the fight against East Timorese independence, he told the 50 protesters gathered at the inner gate of the spy station.

Waihopai is able to eavesdrop on international phone calls, faxes and e-mails and then send this material to its intelligence partners, the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.

Mr Horton said Waihopai was effectively not a part of New Zealand as it was a foreign-controlled spy station collecting intelligence for countries like the United States and Australia.

``The Cold War is over but this place is still here.'' Mr Horton called on the Labour Government to ``finish the unfinished business'' and break the final links with the United States.

While obvious links such as Anzus and the nuclear ships policy had been broken, invisible ties, such as the intelligence relationships Waihopai was part of, still existed.

Green MP Keith Locke supported this position, saying New Zealand should be independent and not a subsidiary of Australia and the United States.

New Zealand's nuclear stance had shown it could have a big role in international affairs, despite its size.

He said Waihopai was not about keeping peace but simply increased international tensions, as it was known New Zealand was spying on other countries.

The party's defence and disarmament spokesman, Mr Locke called for much greater debate about New Zealand's intelligence involvements.

Green co-leader Rod Donald said the demonstrators should not go home and forget about Waihopai, but write letters to Prime Minister Helen Clark and her deputy, Jim Anderton, calling for an inquiry into the base and the Government Communications Security Bureau which runs it.

Activist Nicky Hager, whose book Secret Power exposed much of what went on at Waihopai, said Labour was putting the issue in the ``too hard'' basket.

However other countries were much more concerned about the spying network New Zealand was locked into and he hoped this would eventually put pressure on New Zealand to change.

However at the moment the Government was stuck with a 1950s mentality which said the safest thing to do was follow America, Mr Hager said.

Today's protest was peaceful with only a small police presence. In 1997, 20 protesters were arrested for trespass at the base. NZPA BLE am

CAFCA - Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa

Link to earlier alert on Waihopai.

Link to the Anti-Bases Campaign Statement, 7 February 2000 - Close the Waihopai Spybase Protest Now!

Link to main page on Spies and the SIS

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