Camera confiscated in Saudi sheep investigation


A freelance camera crew sent by Newshub to film the controversial farm at the centre of the Saudi sheep deal was arrested and had his memory cards confiscated.

Newshub sent the cameraman to the Al-Khalaf Agrihub to film for an investigation into the Government's role in the Saudi sheep deal.

"They surprised me actually, they said, 'What are you doing, it is not allowed to be here', and they are starting to be intense with me," the cameraman says.

"I tell them there is no need to be intense or to scream on my face."

The next day the police visited him, detained him for three hours, and confiscated all his memory cards.

The Agrihub is meant to promote New Zealand tech in the region and Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully has said it's open and managed by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and local parties.

But when we approached NZTE, they knew nothing of the incident and pointed out it's a privately owned farm.

The Nation has examined 1000s of pages of correspondence about shipping tycoon Sheikh Hmood Al Ali AlKhalaf's sheep farm using $6 million of Kiwi agricultural technology, gifted by our Government to smooth a free-trade deal in the Gulf.

"In order to get that free-trade deal across the line he was willing to move heaven and earth, and in my opinion has done something that is quite disreputable," says shadow Attorney-General David Parker.

New Zealand's previous Labour Government banned live sheep export for slaughter after an incident in 2003 when thousands of sheep from Australia died on board a ship owned by Sheikh Hmood.

"The whole idea of establishing a model New Zealand farm in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert has never made sense to me," Mr Parker says.

The Auditor-General is investigating the deal and Mr McCully won't comment until her report is out.

The full investigation will air on TV3's The Nation on Saturday morning.