NZ 'aware' of US drone attacks - journalist

Last updated 14:33 17/05/2014

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An American investigative journalist says the New Zealand Government is "extremely aware" of United States drone strike attacks, including one which killed a New Zealand citizen.

Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, appeared on TV3's The Nation this morning to discuss the operation last November which killed Kiwi Daryl Jones.

Scahill said he had seen "dozens of top secret documents" the United States had provided to the New Zealand Government indicating New Zealand was "extremely aware" of the extent of the drone strikes around the world and fully briefed on the programme.

"The fact is that New Zealand, through signal intercepts, is directly involved with what is effectively an American assassination programme."

There were "real questions" regarding the extent to which the New Zealand Government had provided the United States with information that could have led to the tracking and killing of Jones, he said.

"I'm saying that if you look at the top secret documents... it would be very difficult to believe that if it had information about one of its citizens that the United States was tracking, that it wouldn't share that information with the US Government."

The US National Security Agency, with the help of Five Eyes allies - New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Britain - was building a network of citizens' data by storing phone calls and email, he said.

"The extent to which New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Britain are doing that, I don't know.

"But I think it's safe to assume that if you someday end up accused of terrorism that they could build a pretty extensive profile based on digging back through your digital communications."

Scahill said he did not believe Prime Minister John Key had any intelligence to suggest Jones was engaged in criminal activity.

"This to me is pretty scandalous when nations like New Zealand and Australia are essentially saying 'hey, it's ok if another nation kills our citizens in an undeclared war zone'."

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