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Hager challenged to back up spy claim

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Hager challenged to back up spy claim


Total Posts: 494
Joined: February 27, 2012

Nicky Hager is being challenged to produce evidence that the Defence Force spied on journalist Jon Stephenson in Afghanistan.

29 July 2013

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman is challenging Nicky Hager to produce evidence the Defence Force spied on journalist Jon Stephenson in Afghanistan.

Mr Hager, an investigative journalist, alleged in a Sunday Star Times article the New Zealand military last year received help from US spy agencies to intercept Stephenson's phone calls.

The article said the Defence Force was trying to identify his sources after he wrote a report, published in Metro magazine, about New Zealand's handling of Afghan prisoners.
he Defence Force has rejected the allegation and Dr Coleman gave assurances at a press conference on Monday that Stephenson wasn't spied on.

"I asked the Defence Force specifically if they've ever used US sources to monitor New Zealanders and they told me they haven't," he said.

"There has been no spying on Mr Stephenson, or any other journalist to my knowledge."

Dr Coleman says the Defence Force went through its records right back to the start of the war in Afghanistan.

"If it had happened there would have been records, and there are no records," he said.

"And I haven't seen any evidence from Mr Hager - if he has that evidence, he should bring it forward."

Mr Hager's story also revealed a Defence Force manual lists "certain investigative journalists" as one of three main "subversion" threats, which qualifies them for surveillance, alongside foreign intelligence services and organisations with extreme ideologies.

Dr Coleman says it's heavy-handed, inappropriate, and will be removed from the manual.

It was put into the manual in 2003 when Sir Bruce Ferguson was chief of the Defence Force.

On Monday morning Sir Bruce was highly critical of the reference to investigative journalists, and when it was pointed out it had been issued under his watch he said he couldn't remember it.

Asked what he thought of that, Dr Coleman said he didn't know what to make of it.

"Sir Bruce Ferguson signed off that order in 2003 and reissued it in 2005. It was an order issued by him and I don't have any comment to make," he said.

"It's been in place for 10 years. I didn't know about it, previous defence ministers didn't know about it, and the guy who issued it has forgotten about it."

© 2013 NZN, NZCity

Link to article: http://home.nzcity.co.nz/news/article.aspx?id=171024&fm=newsmain%2c...

Posted on July 30, 2013 at 3:25 PM