Helping US spy on Fiji in the name of democracy

Laying bare the workings of our democratically elected officials:

New Zealand has been using the Waihopai communications base to spy on Fiji’s military, passing the intelligence to the United States Government, WikiLeaks cables reveal.

The base was used in the 2006 coup and probably the 2000 coup, although New Zealand officials have always denied that they were spying.

The WikiLeak cables, taken with other information made public on Fiji, point to the Government Communications Security Bureau being capable of listening in to Fijian mobile phones.

The revelation is likely to anger Fiji prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who seized power in a December 2006 coup.

At the time Commodore Bainimarama and his colonels publicly expressed fears that Australia and New Zealand were engaging in covert activity.

A leaked cable reports on meetings that then United States assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, Randall Fort, had in October 2008 with the then External Assessments Bureau, the GCSB, the Prime Minister’s Department and the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

US deputy secretary Margaret McKean wrote a cable summing up the meeting. “New Zealand views the situation in Fiji as `acute’, and appreciates USG [US Government] support for the Pacific Island Forum position on Fiji. Fort commented that GNZ sigint [ New Zealand government signals intelligence] had been critical to USG understanding of the 2006 coup.”

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