Sunlight did what sunlight does: Nicky Hager on Dirty Politics, three years on

Dirty Politics landed like a bombshell in the NZ election campaign of 2014. It may not have affected that outcome, but that was never the ambition. It has, however, made a big impact on our politics, argues Nicky Hager in The Spinoff

One News: Taxpayer-funded grants to NZ tech firm used to build surveillance equipment for UK government

Taxpayer-funded grants to a private New Zealand tech firm were used to build mass surveillance equipment for Britain’s largest intelligence agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

ONE News: Special investigation: Inside one of the SIS’s biggest anti-terrorism operations

One of the Security Intelligence Service’s biggest ever anti-terrorism operations – conducted between July and August 2012 – targeted a group of pro-democracy campaigners who it mistakenly thought were planning to overthrow the military government in Fiji.

NZ Herald: US warship visit to New Zealand

Visit would show America, not NZ, has changed stance, writes Nicky Hager

Snowden files: How NZ and US agents plotted to spy on China

Five Eyes allies identified a diplomatic data link between Chinese offices as a target for hacking. Nicky Hager and Ryan Gallagher dissect the plan.

Snowden files: GCSB’s secret Bangladesh spy mission

Secret documents reveal New Zealand has shared intelligence collected through covert surveillance with Bangladesh despite that country’s security forces being implicated in extrajudicial killings, torture and other human rights abuses.

Snowden files: How spy agency homed in on Groser’s rivals

A top secret document reveals New Zealand’s surveillance agency spied on candidates vying to be the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a job sought by National Government minister Tim Groser.

Snowden files: GCSB had Solomons post, papers show

The GCSB not only spies on the Solomon Islands using its Waihopai satellite interception base – it also had a secret listening post inside the country, according to documents provided by the United States National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Revealed: The names NZ targeted using NSA’s XKeyscore system

Why did the GCSB intercept emails to and from Solomon Island officials? Nicky Hager and Ryan Gallagher report

Snowden revelations: NZ’s spy reach stretches across globe

New Zealand spies on Vietnam, China, India, Pakistan, South American nations and a range of other countries to help fill gaps in worldwide surveillance operations by the United States National Security Agency (NSA), documents show.

Snowden files: Inside Waihopai’s domes

NICKY HAGER AND RYAN GALLAGHER Last updated 07:47, March 8 2015 Sunday Star-Times The Waihopai intelligence base looks oddly alien and out of place: huge white “golf ball” radomes like a moon station and silent buildings within two fences of razor wire, all dropped in the midst of vineyards and dry hills in New Zealand’s [...]

#snowdenNZ : The price of the Five Eyes club: Mass spying on friendly nations

Leaked Snowden files show most of GCSB’s targets are not security threats to New Zealand, as Government suggests…

Digging up dirty deeds, Nicky Hager writing in Walkley Magazine

Political journalists had long suspected
links between the prime minister’s office and these
bloggers, but the activities were well hidden and
denied. The book shows a series of attacks and
manufactured scandals: researched and coordinated
by government staff and then fed to journalists via
the attack bloggers. It is a classic example of where
a leak was crucial for the story getting out

New Zealand elections: dirty tricks helped John Key win another term

An orchestrated attack has painted Key’s political opponents as dodgy, untrustworthy or incompetent. This is not how democracy should work: Nicky Hager writes in The Guardian

Cyprus: the home of British/American Internet surveillance in the Middle East by Nicky Hager and Stefania Maurizi

British and US Internet surveillance in the Middle East and surrounding regions occurs from a secret base on the island of Cyprus…..

Latest Wikileaks revelations (Sunday Star-Times)

Confidential security industry documents released by Wikileaks this week reveal details of the kinds of surveillance systems that will be used in New Zealand under the controversial GCSB Act.

Electronic Espionage: 15 years of inertia (Le Monde Diplomatique, September 2013)

Edward Snowden is in the midst of one of the most dramatic intelligence leaks in our lifetimes…..
Le Monde Diplomatique, September 2013

US spy agencies eavesdrop on Kiwi, Sunday Star-Times 

The New Zealand military received help from US spy agencies to monitor the phone calls of Kiwi journalist Jon Stephenson and his associates while he was in Afghanistan reporting on the war.

Trevor Clarke, tax haven architect and current-day user

This article, published by Matariki FM in the Cook Islands, is about tax haven activities of that nation’s richest man….

Who Uses the Offshore World

Secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveal tens of thousands of people in more than 170 countries and territories linked to offshore companies and trusts. Here are some examples from around the world. By Marina Walker Guevara, Nicky Hager, Mar Cabra, Gerard Ryle and Emily Menkes

Who is really responsible for the GCSB shenanigans?

Kitteridge Report suggests “unclear legislation” allowed for GCSB to illegally spy on New Zealanders. But the real responsibility lies elsewhere

How do you make sense of more than a million leaked documents?

The story behind the massive leak of documents revealing the extent to which the world’s wealthy go to avoid and evade tax and New Zealand’s part in the investigations

Money trail leads home to New Zealand, Sunday Star-Times

Leaked documents reveal one of New Zealand’s richest families was for a time at the heart of a major international tax haven company that hit the news in the United States last week.

Disclosure of secret offshore documents may force top Mongolian lawmaker to resign

Deputy speaker of Mongolia’s Parliament admits he had $1 million Swiss account….

Secret Files Expose Offshore’s Global Impact

Dozens of journalists sifted through millions of leaked records and thousands of names to produce ICIJ’s investigation into offshore secrecy
By Gerard Ryle, Marina Walker Guevara, Michael Hudson, Nicky Hager, Duncan Campbell and Stefan Candea

2011 Election analysis: I’ve just been internalising a really complicated situation in my head

The news declared that the National Party had had a ‘historic’ election victory on Saturday but, if that was true, National Party people would be looking happier. The reality is much more complicated.

US free-trade deal suspect

New Zealand’s chief trade negotiator Mark Sinclair privately told a visiting US State Department official that New Zealand had little to gain from a free-trade agreement. This view – recorded in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks – differs from the one the public has been given.

Visiting Wikileaks in December 2010

I HAVE had many careful meetings with sources during the last 20 years, but never anything as cautious and mysterious as this. I was heading overseas to meet the WikiLeaks team in the midst of heavy threats from the United States government and more imminent threats of police action.

Wikileaks: the first cables released in New Zealand

These are the first US embassy cables released in New Zealand, in full except for one name being redacted.

Wikileaks: Leaked US cables spill the beans on NZ ties

NEW ZEALAND’S collaboration with United States intelligence agencies was “fully restored” in August 2009 but both governments decided to keep the decision secret.

Wikileaks: US tried to change nukes stand in 2005

THE WIKILEAKS cables reveal American ambassador Charles Swindell worked ahead of the 2005 election to pressure New Zealand into changing its nuclear-free policy.

Israel’s omniscient ears

Israel’s Urim base in the Negev desert is among the most important and powerful intelligence gathering sites in the world. Yet, until now, its eavesdropping has gone entirely unmentioned

Spies target animal rights campaigners

An Auckland private investigation firm has been caught out after it attached a sophisticated tracking device to a political campaigner’s car – but left the device visible from outside the vehicle. It is the third time in three years the Sunday Star-Times has caught Thompson & Clark Investigations doing covert surveillance on political groups for corporate clients.

Google case highlights risks in NZ law change

The US Internet company Google threatened to close its Chinese operations last week after discovering Chinese hackers had broken into its Gmail email system, apparently gaining access via specialised interception equipment installed by Google to assist US law enforcement agencies.

Spies on the ground beat ears in the sky

INQUISITIVE MARLBOROUGH locals have outsmarted government attempts to keep the targets of the Waihopai spy station secret – and have discovered that it is eavesdropping on Asian satellites carrying the communications of New Zealand’s friends and trading partners in that region.

FBI role in Big Brother’s sharper eyes, ears

GO TO the heart of one of Telecom or Vodafone’s mobile phone exchanges and you’ll find the whole system – covering a quarter of the country – is run by a single computer, no bigger than a small freezer.
Cables lead off to all the company’s cellphone towers and other parts of the network. A main cable, connecting all those phone users to the world, comes out the top of the computer and passes directly into a unit in the rack above. One cable goes into the unit but two come out: one continuing out to the world, the other coiling off to secret equipment marked “LI” on the system diagrams. “LI” stands for “lawful interception”.

NZ’s cyber spies win new powers

New cyber-monitoring measures have been quietly introduced giving police and Security Intelligence Service officers the power to monitor all aspects of someone’s online life. The measures are the largest expansion of police and SIS surveillance capabilities for decades, and mean that all mobile calls and texts, email, internet surfing and online shopping, chatting and social networking can be monitored anywhere in New Zealand.

Postal blunder – are your tax records safe?

TREASURY HAS lost a computer disk containing millions of New Zealanders’ confidential tax records, after ignoring procedures and sending the CD through the mail.

Dying for an invitation to Washington

John Key and his colleagues are going to send the Special Air Service to Afghanistan. The current talk about whether National should do so is, unfortunately, academic. The decision is already made.

Leaked: National plans reveal the government’s continued reluctance to spend

Leaked Cabinet plans list the government’s infrastructure projects and show that even facing the worst economic crisis in half a century, the government intends to restrain its spending….

Activist considers court action against police informer

PROTESTER SIMON OOSTERMAN might bring charges against police informer Rob Gilchrist for harming his case at a trial over the police use of pepper spray. A follow up article on anti-terrorist police.

Police anti-terror squad spies on protest groups

Police teams set up to identify terrorism threats and risks to national security are spying on protest and community groups, including Greenpeace, animal rights and climate change campaigners, and Iraq war protesters.

Crossing the line: the activist who turned police informer

The police have used an informer to spy on New Zealand protest groups for nearly 10 years – providing them with intimate details about planned protests and even the private lives of group members….

There’s actually only one John Key, just not the one on show

National’s campaign is hiding a front bench full of 1990s-style free marketers behind John Key’s well-scripted one-liners….

Private hospitals will ‘cream off’ easiest work under Nat scheme

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager says National’s health policies have gone publicly unnoticed, but involve a shift back to 1990s free-market reforms….

Hooton’s hollow complaints, comment, Pundit website

Nicky Hager was invited by the Pundit website to reply to a column by Matthew Hooton.

A question of judgement

Is it all right when the judge in a court case and the lawyer for one of the parties are also long-term business partners? Nicky Hager reports….

Plum job for Brash as National attacks cronyism

JOHN KEY plans to appoint former party leader Don Brash as high commissioner to London if National is elected later this year, sources have told the Sunday Star-Times….

Brethren leader visits in secrecy

THE WORLD leader of the Exclusive Brethren made an unpublicised visit to New Zealand last week, arriving on Wednesday, amid strict security, to a large meeting of faithful in Wellington.

Key’s election-advice invoices undermine attacks on Labour

National Party leader John Key appears to be using taxpayers’ money to pay for his controversial Australian strategy advisers, Crosby/Textor. Inside information strongly points to the firm being paid through Key’s parliamentary office rather than by the National Party, even though the Australians are primarily assisting the party’s election campaign strategy….

Return of the Hollow Men

National leader John Key’s campaign is being overseen by the same highly controversial manipulators who directed Don Brash’s ill-fated tilt at power….

$1m worth of sarcasm

Government agencies are paying thousands of dollars for inside information from private investigators Thompson and Clark. But as Nicky Hager writes, they could get some of it on Google. …

Why John Key wants to change the electoral system, Otago Daily Times, June 2008

National Party leader John Key is talking about changing New Zealand’s electoral system. Nicky Hager writes about Key’s plans and the lobby groups that are pushing for the change.

Waihopai: our role in international spying

When three Christian protesters deflated a radome at the Waihopai intelligence base 12 days ago, citing the base’s support for the US War on Terror, a chorus of voices ridiculed the suggestion….

Spies have fingers in many govt pies

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry quietly severed its contract with controversial private investigators Thompson and Clark Investigations last year, after the Sunday Star-Times revealed that TCIL’s “corporate intelligence” included infiltrating and spying on community groups….

Coal mine spies return despite govt ban

PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS working for the state-owned coal company Solid Energy have defied a direct government instruction and again tried to infiltrate an environment group that opposes Solid Energy’s coal mining plans….

Still digging

Twelve months ago the government told state coal company Solid Energy that using paid informants to infiltrate environment groups was ‘not acceptable’ and that it had to stop. Solid Energy is adamant it has complied. The private investigators however appear to have defied the order….

A question of intelligence

What information led the police to smash the Urewera ‘terrorist’ training camps? Nicky Hager investigates the intelligence trail which led from cafe conversations to the armed police response. TWO YEARS ago a man quite similar to central characters in the Urewera “terrorism” case purchased a pistol holster on TradeMe for $66. Officers at the Otahuhu [...]

Back Story

The Police “terrorism” case against Maori, peace and environmental activists has its origins long before Operation Eight began last year….

How to decide who is a terrorist

The Solicitor-General will shortly make a decision whether to approve terrorism charges against the Maori, peace and environmental activists arrested last month. Nicky Hager describes how the decision will be made and the factors the Solicitor-General needs to take into account….

Election funding: What’s National up to?

The great weakness of much journalism is a process-worker approach to assembling quotation-based stories….

Donor cash stays in shadows

MPs have stepped back from proposals that would have lifted secrecy
surrounding party donations….

I was paid to betray protesters

Student confesses he infiltrated group opposed to Solid Energy mining.
AN AUCKLAND private investigation firm is paying agents to infiltrate
and spy on environmental, peace and anti-vivisection groups….

Beyond the spin-doctoring, democracy is at work

I would like to propose a New Year’s resolution for news organisations: sorting out the difference between genuine media commentators and giving regular media space to political party spin doctors….

Reply to Michael Bassett and Richard Long

Michael Bassett and Richard Long used their recent columns to criticise me and my book The Hollow Men but they barely mentioned, much less debated, the contents of the book. Nor did they acknowledge that they both feature prominently…..

Handing thieves the keys

So, you do most of your banking online? Maybe you shouldn’t. As a computer hacker tells Nicky Hager, it is alarmingly easy for scamsters to break into your accounts….

Why America never cut ties with NZ

MICHAEL KING’S excellent Penguin History of New Zealand tells us intelligence sharing between the United States and New Zealand ended in 1985 as part of retaliation for this country’s nuclear-free policy. Thanks to the discovery last week of a secret intelligence report detailing events at that time, we can at last, hopefully, lay this tired old myth to rest.

Hacker takes 3 minutes to get your cash

A NEW ZEALAND computer hacker has accessed the private bank accounts of dozens of unsuspecting Kiwis, showing how easy it is to break into our internet banking system….

Australians aware of agent’s connection to Mossad

AUSTRALIAN intelligence officials knew the man at the centre of the Kiwi Israeli spy scandal was a long-time Mossad agent well before he began the New Zealand passport operation…

Mossad man’s history of bungles

Don’t expect the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to be named in an apology about the Israeli spy scandal, but it was indeed Mossad at the centre of the affair. (This story solved the mystery of two Isreali men caught attempting to obtain false New Zealand passports. Nicky Hager traced them to the Isreali intelligence service, Mossad.)

Pulling rank from ‘the Yanks’: the life of a Kiwi contractor in Iraq

NICKY HAGER speaks to a former NZSAS member working in a `Close Protection Team’: DOZENS OF New Zealanders are working for private companies in Iraq as violent opposition to the occupation forces spreads and the risks to foreigners grow….

More to NZ’s tour of duty than meets the eye

A LEAKED report reveals the 61 New Zealand Army engineers caught up in the Iraq conflict have spent only a fraction of their time helping rebuild services for Iraqi civilians….

Orion spending decision flies in face of Clark’s previous policy

NO ONE said it openly, but an unpublicised cabinet decision in late January signalled the end of Labour’s policy of reorienting the defence forces….

Peaceful protests and violent police

Policing of normal political protest has changed dramatically in recent years. What’s going on?

Christchurch Press feature on intelligence

In November last year PM Helen Clark released a new policy on access to our Security Intelligence Service’s old files. The press release said it was to encourage “greater openness”, but in fact she had just instituted possibly the most restrictive intelligence archives policy in the western world… .

In the line of fire

The role New Zealand soldiers are playing in Iraq is not the one the government has sold to the country… (This feature was the first expose of New Zealand military activities in Iraq.)

Coming a cropper, why Helen Clark has only herself to blame

Helen Clark has tried again to present herself as the victim in the contaminated corn crop issue. But, this time, she is partly correct….

Power firm’s shock ally

Nicky Hager reveals a controversial American company behind the South Island’s proposed Project Aqua scheme….

Meridian Energy and public relations

It is not surprising if you haven’t heard of Project Aqua. It is the largest power scheme planned in New Zealand since the Clyde Dam 20 years ago and already it is controversial in the local area around Oamaru. But a lot of state resources are going into trying to silence the opponents and avoid the inconvenience of genuine public debate….

In defence it’s not size that matters

The latest ‘debate’ about defence consists of the usual moans about the military being dangerously underfunded and ill-equipped…. but this says more about the feeble standard of debate than any reality concerning our military forces….

Spies like us

A recent story in Britain’s Observer newspaper revealed that US intelligence agencies have been spying intensely on UN Security Council members as the US worked to secure backing for the war in Iraq. You might imagine that New Zealand would disapprove of these high level dirty tricks…

Our secret war

THE war in Afghanistan was fought by intelligence analysts sitting at computers and special force commandos roving in mountains and lowlands…. (This feature was the first expose of New Zealand military activities in Afghanistan and surrounding countries in 2001-2003, activities which until then had mostly remained secret.)

Special operations, just another definition for terror

CONSIDER the achievements of the Afghanistan war in terms of “fighting terrorism”… Overall, future terrorist attacks on the US and its allies appear to be more, not less, likely as a result of this war. It is not hard to see why.

We’ve put pragmatism before our principles

New Zealanders are being softened up to accept this country taking part in perhaps the most outrageous United States-led war since Vietnam….

Labour: the new House of Lords

Now that three years of Labour Government have passed, it is becoming clear what we can expect during the next three or six years of this government….

Denials and diversions, but deeds remain

Frantic Government damage control followed the release last week of my book Seeds of Distrust. We were told the book was completely untrue and that I was a conspiracy theorist taking part in a Green Party dirty trick.

Defence loses battle for huge spend-up

A $2.3 billion defence spending plan is stalled before cabinet after ministers rejected a bid by defence officials for a high tech military upgrade of surveillance aircraft….

Defence offensive

The conflict between Helen Clark and officials over the future shape of the defence forces has heated up again….

New Zealand and the New Cold War

As soon as the Labour-Alliance Government offered soldiers for the orwellian-sounding “War on Terrorism”, declaring “total support for the approach taken by the United States”, it began drawing New Zealand into the hidden agendas not only of the Afghanistan War, but also of what are, in effect, the early days of a renewed cold war.

World needs to step aside from retaliation, violence

As the pressure comes on New Zealand to support war in Asia, let’s not fool ourselves that we would be fighting on the side of right….

In the know

There is nothing surprising about the US intelligence agencies failing to detect and stop the September 11 hijacking attacks. The main role of US intelligence agencies is not defence against threats like terrorism, but advancing US interests elsewhere in the world . . .

Investigating public relations companies

PR is a huge feature of modern politics. Every journalist spends a lot of his or her time coping with and trying to see through PR communications and tactics. However the issue for journalists should not just be surviving PR tactics and spin, but turning the spotlight on it….

A tangled web

The police, Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau are pushing for major new surveillance powers including the ability to spy on emails. Nicky Hager investigates. THE secretary of the anti-free trade group turns on her computer and types in the security password. Her computer holds all the group’s membership lists and meeting [...]

Echelon – a story about how information spreads (or doesn’t)

My 1996 book Secret Power on New Zealand’s role in the Echelon network was written secretly, as I feared the intelligence agencies would try to block publication of a book based on extensive interviews with their staff….

Huge savings if defence is revamped

The cost of military equipment is always hard to comprehend. How can a small frigate cost more than half a billion dollars, Army radios cost tens of thousands each and a few Skyhawk jets cost more than $200 million a year?

Time for Change

This is a very positive time to be serving in the New Zealand Defence Force. The peacekeeping mission to East Timor is arguably Defence’s most important and popular role in the last 50 years….

Phantom Soldiers

Most SAS keep to themselves. They socialise together, are hard drinkers, and `watch each other’s backs’. They don’t talk freely about their work, with is why most of what they do remains secret…. (This article publicised many previously unknown details of New Zealand’s Special Air Service)

Ugly factory building hides bugging centre

Written with Anthony Hubbard AN UGLY industrial building in inner-city Wellington is the Security Intelligence Service’s bugging and surveillance centre, the Sunday Star-Times can reveal. The white two-storey building in Kaiwharawhara Rd _ in an industrial area which includes panelbeaters and pet food wholesalers _ houses sophisticated electronic bugging equipment. Cars and utility vans used [...]

Exposing the Global Surveillance System

This article publicised Nicky Hager’s book Secret Power and particularly its revelations about the Echelon surveillance system to an international audience. The article was picked by a European Parliament researcher and prompted a year-long European Parliament investigation into the Echelon system (2000-2001). It received a US journalism award.