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GCSB report open to interpretation

Wednesday 22 May 2013 6:31 p.m.

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The Green Party and an intelligence expert say the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) more than likely helped police spy on those arrested during the Urewera raids.

They suspect the GCSB would have spied on those eventually arrested. The Greens say, coupled with the unlawful police action in the case, this is an attack on democracy and civil rights.

Valerie Morse was one of those arrested on October 15 in Wellington. For more than a year police spied on Operation 8 suspects like her, and despite it being illegal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders - it may have helped.

"I'm just not going to get into the detail of what involvement they may or may not have had there," says Prime Minister John Key.  

The GCSB's technology is superior to that of police and the SIS.

"They may have provided the technologies and then the police and the SIS actually manned the technologies used to surveil these people," says security expert Paul Buchanan.

The spy watchdog found the GCSB didn't break the law when helping police and the NZ Security Intelligence Service spy on 88 New Zealanders.

None of those cases resulted in arrest or prosecution as a result of information supplied by the GCSB.

"Doesn't mean there weren't later on arrests for different cases or different actions," says John Key.

The Greens say those arrests could be those of the so-called Urewera 17. This may be concerning, when coupled with police conduct during Operation 8.

"The fact that the GCSB was probably acting unlawfully as well, if they were involved in the case - and there's a high probability they were - means the whole security apparatus was acting unlawfully in this case," says Green Party co-leader Russell Norman.

The GCSB's been cleared of breaking the law in the report - but only just. The law's so opaque it's open to interpretation.

The Prime Minister won't release the report because it's top secret, leaving the Opposition to continue its open interpretation of its findings.

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