Former Defence and GCSB boss Sir Bruce Ferguson says it's concerning the NZ military would spy on investigative journalists.
The former head of both the Defence Force and GCSB says he's concerned about revelations a New Zealand journalist was spied on by the military.
28 July, 2013
A leaked Defence Force manual obtained by the Sunday Star-Times lists "certain investigative journalists" as one of three main "subversion" threats, which qualifies them for surveillance.
The New Zealand military allegedly received help from US spy agencies to monitor the phone calls of journalist Jon Stephenson in Afghanistan.
Sir Bruce Ferguson, who was Chief of Defence Force between 2001 and 2006, and director of the Government Communications Security Bureau from 2006 to 2011, is stunned by the revelations.
"I certainly, in my career, have never met a journalist who has given me any cause for fear or concern. They have a job to do, and they generally do it very well," he told Radio New Zealand.
"I certainly haven't ever treated them as the enemy or people that are at risk of subverting justice. I just find it quite confusing that they (the Defence Force) are saying that."
Sir Bruce says it's concerning the Defence Force now appears to have something to hide.
He said the media is "quite vital" for keeping the likes of the Defence Force and GCSB honest.
A Defence Force spokesman said it not be appropriate for current Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones to comment while legal action between Mr Stephenson and the Defence Force is ongoing.
A High Court jury was last week unable to agree over whether Mr Stephenson had been defamed by Lt Gen Jones and the Defence Force in a press release questioning whether the journalist had actually spoken to a source in Kabul for an article revealing details of the NZ army's role in Afghanistan.
The Green Party wants a Royal Commission inquiry into the government spy agencies following the revelations, which come as the government rushes through new legislation giving the GCSB power to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of other domestic agencies.
Thousands of people protested against the bill on Saturday.
Journalist's calls monitored in Afghanistan
The New Zealand Defence Force is being accused of getting American intelligence agencies to keep track of New Zealand journalist Jon Stephenson through his phone records.
28 July, 2013
It comes just two weeks after Mr Stephenson was fighting to clear his name in a defamation case against the Defence Force, on an unrelated matter.
Fellow journalist Nicky Hager says the New Zealand Defence Force had copies of Mr Stephenson's phone records in Afghanistan, which had been intercepted by American intelligence agencies.
"It certainly seems that New Zealand had asked for intelligence help from the Americans, and they were actively using this information about whom Jon had been calling, and whom they had been calling – the whole tree of his contacts – I think to find his sources," says Mr Hager.
Mr Stephenson had been working on stories in Afghanistan for both American and New Zealand news companies.
The Prime Minister denies our spy agency, the GCSB, was tracking him.
"What I can say is the advice I have from the GCSB is that he isn't a target and has never been a target," says John Key.
But Mr Hager says he is sure of the facts.
Mr Stephenson is out of the country on holiday. But Mr Hager revealed Mr Stephenson had been suspicious he was being spied on in the war zone.
"You have to wonder," says Mr Hager. "But I'd always said to him, 'Don't be paranoid; you're a journalist.'"
The Green Party is now calling for a royal commission of inquiry, to look into our intelligence services.
"You can't have a democracy without a free and independent press, and what this government is trying to do is intimidate journalists to stop running stories that John Key doesn't like," says Greens co-leader Russel Norman.
The spying allegation comes just a day after thousands protested over proposed changes to our spying legislation.
And using its own line against it, the Greens say if the Government and the Intelligence and Security Services have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear from a royal commission of inquiry
Here are Nicky Hager's initial revelations
US spy agencies eavesdrop on Kiwi
The New Zealand military received help from US spy agencies to monitor the phone calls of Kiwi journalist Jon Stephenson and his associates while he was in Afghanistan reporting on the war.
And some discussion on Radio New Zealand with QC Rodney Harrison and Paul Buchanan
Defence Force warning that journalists a 'subversion' threat
Alarm at leaked Defence Force document warning that certain investigative journalists a 'subversion' threat. With Rick Neville - Editorial director of the Newspaper Publishers Association. Dr Paul Buchanan - an Auckland based strategic analyst and political risk and market intelligence consultant. He was formerly with the US Defense Department. Rodney Harrison QC - Auckland lawyer