The Prime Minister refused to give an assurance today that New Zealanders have not been the subject of mass surveillance by the United States - saying he doesn't talk about such matters.
It follows intelligence leaks by Edward Snowden in Britain this week, suggesting phone, internet and email records of its citizens have been collected by American spies.
The leaks continue to wreak havoc.
The latest have led to an urgent report being ordered in the UK amid concerns US spy agency the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting mass data on British citizens.
So 3 News asked Prime Minister John Key if it's legal for the NSA to conduct mass surveillance on New Zealanders.
"It depends on what you mean by all of those particular points. I'm not really going to go into what people do or don't do," he said.
"All I can tell you is we have very strict rules in New Zealand about reasons why information can be gathered on someone and my expectations are our agencies live within the law."
But the NSA is not one of our agencies.
"If the Prime Minister has failed to give an assurance, and clearly he has, then what that suggests is he knows what we all suspect - that the NSA are engaging on mass surveillance on New Zealanders," said Green party co-leader Russel Norman.
New Zealand is part of the Five Eyes network - which includes the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia.
The agreement, dating back to 1946, confirms the five won't monitor each others' citizens, without permission. But the latest Snowden leaks suggest the NSA has ignored that - and been collecting mass data on British citizens.
So, the question for Mr Key is, can he give an assurance that the NSA isn't doing that in New Zealand too?
But when asked, Mr Key again refused to comment.
"I'm not going to talk about that specific issue because I don't comment on security or intelligence issues," he said.
"But what I can say that I am confident to the best advice I've ever had that the GCSB and SIS act within the law."
Labour MP Grant Robertson said he believes New Zealanders want an assurance from Mr Key that their privacy and security is being protected.
3 News also asked Mr Key today if he was aware if Snowden had any material relating to spying on New Zealanders.
To that, Mr Key reiterated he wouldn't comment on intelligence or security matters.
source: newshub archive