13 Nov 2014

GCSB papers declassified pre-election

8:52 pm on 13 November 2014

New documents reveal the government spy agency had begun declassifying papers to counter Kim Dotcom's so-called Moment of Truth, months before the event had even occurred.

At the event in September, American journalist Glenn Greenwald claimed a mass surveillance programme was under way in New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key at the East Asia Summit in Myanmar.

Prime Minister John Key at the East Asia Summit in Myanmar. Photo: Pool

Prime Minister John Key quickly released declassified documents, which he said proved a plan was looked into but ultimately scrapped.

New information, released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act, show the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) began preparing those papers for declassification in late July.

Mr Key, who is in Myanmar, said at that time it was obvious what would be released at Mr Dotcom's event.

"To be frank, if you were sitting in our position, we knew the stuff that he might be able to portray in a particular way and while we didn't know it would be necessarily him at that point, we knew that somebody would put those in the public domain," he said.

But Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the timing showed Mr Key used the GCSB for political ends.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman speaks to media after the official election results.

Russel Norman Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

Dr Norman told Checkpoint the documents showed Mr Key pressured the GCSB into releasing previously classified documents just before the election.

"These documents weren't released for any national interest or security interest," he said.

"They weren't released at the time when they were being considered, which was a number of many months previously.

"They were released at exactly this moment a few days out from the election to benefit the National Party, at the request of the leader of the National Party, John Key, so he was effectively using his control of the security agencies for political election purposes."

Dr Norman said the documents were released to counter potentially damaging revelations by Greenwald and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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