6 Mar 2015

Cooks not NZ spy target - Puna

7:41 pm on 6 March 2015

The Cook Islands prime minister says he is not in a position to comment on any allegations or suggestions of New Zealand spying on other Pacific countries.

Cook Islands PM, Henry Puna

Cook Islands PM, Henry Puna Photo: AFP

Yesterday, the investigative journalist Nicky Hager said the New Zealand Government's Communications Security Bureau has been collecting all electronic communication from countries such as Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa on behalf of the United States.

Henry Puna says as far as he is aware, the Cook Islands is not mentioned in any reports, adding he would be very surprised if there were any incidents involving the Cook Islands.

Mr Puna says he feels it would be contrary to the spirit of the 2001 Joint Centenary Declaration, which contains a commitment by both countries based on mutual respect for their sovereign rights as equal partners.

Meanwhile, the media group the Pacific Freedom Forum is calling on regional leaders to speak out against the alleged spying by New Zealand.

Its Chairperson Titi Gabi says it is worrying that journalists throughout the Pacific are having their communication details collected and it may have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the region.

"The PFF's position is that this is a worry for media workers and for Pacific Islanders in general. We just urge all our leaders to speak out against all this so called spying by the New Zealanders. This is worrying and we are not convinced that this is harmless."

Titi Gabi says the PFF commends the Tongan Prime Minister for coming out in the strongest sense on the issue by saying it constitutes a breach of trust between the two countries.

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