10 Mar 2015

NZ journalist says spying was to earn points with US

5:21 pm on 10 March 2015

The New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager says New Zealand spied on its Pacific neighbours to curry favour with the United States.

Author Nicky Hager says it's the era of dirty tricks.

Nicky Hager Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Mr Hager reported last week that emails obtained by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal mass spying by New Zealand of two dozen countries in the region, via satellite interceptions.

The information was shared with the United States.

Nicky Hager says it was an effort to buy back into an alliance with the US.

"If we weren't part of the American alliance, trying to buy our way back into it, I don't think New Zealand would be spying on Tonga, and the Cook Islands and Samoa and things, why would it need to do that? We are in a region where if people want to know something, you fly somewhere and you have meetings, you talk to people and you front up to things. You don't have to spy on people's emails. And it's not the New Zealand - Pacific way of doing things."

Nicky Hager says the GCSB may have broken the law by spying on Cook Islanders who are New Zealand citizens.