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Key's weapons of mass 'distraction'

Tuesday 16 Apr 2013 5:23 p.m.

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The Prime Minister has revealed he personally signed a warrant so spies could investigate a direct threat of Kiwi science and technology being stolen for use in weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

John Key gave the example as further justification for a law change so the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) can spy on New Zealanders.

The Opposition says it is just a "distraction" from the GCSB's illegal spying.

"This is the weapon of mass distraction by Mr Key," says Labour leader David Shearer. "Mr Key is trying to sex up his policy."

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says: "It didn't go well for [Tony] Blair and [George] Bush, and I'd suggest the Prime Minister just sticks to the policy issues."

But Mr Key believes "they are not serious - they are acting like a bunch of kids".

He says any attempt to steal New Zealand research or technology that could be applied to help create WMDs is serious.

"I certainly can confirm there have been a number of cases involving WMDs," says Mr Key.

He wants a law change so the GCSB can use its technology to legally spy on New Zealanders when assisting domestic spy agency the SIS or the police.

3 News has found that New Zealand actually does have plenty of hi-tech companies involved in making software or technology that could be useful. That includes combat simulation, weapon control systems, gunfire recording systems and underwater drones.

Cyber attacks are one method of theft - the Government says there have been 79 serious cyber incidents on New Zealand targets so far this year.

Mr Key revealed today the threat could be human too - he had personally signed a warrant so SIS spies could investigate an individual in relation to WMDs. 

"The warrant that I signed was for an individual," says Mr Key. "It was in relation to science or technology that we believed was attempted to be exfiltrated from the individuals in New Zealand to be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction."

So, the political spy games continue. Labour and the Greens outright refuse to support Mr Key's law change unless there is an independent inquiry. But significantly, Winston Peters broke ranks with the Opposition today - he's prepared to back GCSB spying on Kiwis in the interests of national security.

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