Edward Snowden alleges 'cover up' over mass surveillance in New Zealand

Edward Snowden alleges 'cover up' over mass surveillance in New Zealand
Photo credit: Getty

Edward Snowden says new evidence shows former Prime Minister John Key lied to New Zealand about mass surveillance plans.

"A Lie, a Cover-Up, and a Stolen Election: @nzherald's new evidence shows former PM of New Zealand John Key lied to his country about mass surveillance plans in the final days before the vote -- and won," he tweeted on Wednesday.

The NSA whistleblower leaked a trove of documents to media in 2013, which detailed global mass surveillance operations.

In September 2014, he and journalist Glen Greenwald said the GCSB and NSA were working together on a mass surveillance project called Speargun.

Speargun is a mass surveillance programme, which Mr Snowden and Mr Greenwald claimed would allow the Government to tap into the communication of New Zealanders.

The claims were made days before the election at Kim Dotcom's 'Moment of Truth' event.

At the time, Sir John Key said the Speargun programme was looked into but had been scrapped in March 2013.

But documents obtained by NZME appear to show the programme was still active months after Mr Key claimed it had been scrapped.

The Speargun programme was put on hold by July 2013 when Mr Key was briefed about it in the wake of Mr Snowden's NSA leak, documents appear to show.

Funding for the Speargun project was not pulled until September 2013 and its replacement programme Cortex was funded in April 2014, according to NZME

Mr Snowden said in September 2014 that while he was an NSA employee he was able to access the communications of New Zealanders using the surveillance tool XKeyscore. 

At the time, Mr Key denied the claims and said he'd resign if it was proven that the New Zealand Government conducted mass surveillance on its citizens. 

Mr Key declined to comment when contacted by Newshub. 

Newshub.