20 Sep 2018

Agencies doing 'thorough' probe of break-ins targeting academic

12:29 pm on 20 September 2018

An academic who claims break-ins at her house and office were because of her research into China has praised police and other agencies for their investigations.

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Anne-Marie Brady Photo: Wilson Centre

But University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady would not comment on a NZ Herald report that her office had been swept for listening devices as part of investigations.

"I have to refer you to the SIS [Security Intelligence Service] to answer that question," she said.

Dr Brady has published research documenting Chinese government influence in New Zealand.

She said laptops were taken in a burglary from her home in February, while cash and valuables were ignored, and that there had been two entries into her office at Canterbury University.

"I've just let the police and other agencies get on with their job after the reporting of the burglary in my house and the break-ins in my office," Dr Brady told Morning Report.

"They've been doing a really, really thorough job on it."

She said there were two possible avenues for investigation - that the break-ins were by burglars looking for cash or valuables, or that they were connected to her work.

"Because of the history of intimidation that I've received because of my research into the Chinese political system the possibility had to be considered that it was the Chinese government."

She said since 1990, when she began researching China there have been incidents "that were meant to intimidate".

Her office is in an older part of the university without CCTV cameras or any elaborate security, she said, and she was hoping for more support from the university soon.

"We do know someone has been into my office. There have been two occasions where I perceived that but there may have been others."

RNZ is seeking comment from the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand.

A spokesperson for the NZSIS said only that it had a long standing practice of not commenting on what may or may not be operational issues.

Tertiary Education Union deputy secretary Nanette Cormack said academics had to be able to do their work without fear of having pressure put on them by foreign governments.

"If there start to be constraints on academic freedom and on the right of academics to speak up and to be critical that starts to affect the democracy of all of us."

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