New Zealand PM walks out of press conference amid spy bill grilling

Posted on Tuesday, 20th August 2013 @ 05:48 AM by Text Size A | A | A

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Tensions are high in New Zealand over a new bill that would allow the country’s GCSB agency to conduct warrantless NSA-style spying on citizens. Prime Minister John Key, who was grilled on the bill at a presser, cut the meeting short and left early.

The country’s top official on Monday was showered with questions on the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) amendment bill, answering some of them, and effortlessly evading others. However, after less than 14 minutes of the presser, Key appeared to have lost patience with the journalists and walked off, leaving a question on privacy completely unanswered.

“Prime Minister, numerous legal jurors have informed us publicly that they disagree with you wholeheartedly, that you are taking broad powers, which would allow you to invade privacy…and you are saying that all those people are wrong…” a journalist said to Key.

“Correct,” the Prime Minister said before immediately interrupting the rest of the question by asking, “Is this a question buddy?”

He then indicated that the question contains the answer, thanked everyone, and left.

The New Zealand Law Society has published a submission opposing the GCSB amendment bill, in which it summarized citizens’ concerns and provided a detailed analysis of the absence of clear justification for several changes in the law.

The document particularly highlighted that “The Bill empowers the GCSB to spy on New Zealand citizens and residents, and to provide intelligence product to other government agencies in respect of those persons, in a way not previously contemplated,” saying that this is “inconsistent with the rights to freedom of expression and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZBORA) and with privacy interests recognized by New Zealand law.”

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