New Zealand spy claims reach Israeli media

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 10:34 20/07/2011

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Israeli media have been quick to pick up on reports of Mossad spying in New Zealand, some highlighting the fact that Prime Minister John Key is Jewish.

The police national computer has been under scrutiny in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake in February because of fears Israeli agents loaded software into the system that would allow backdoor access to highly sensitive intelligence files, The Southland Times reported.

The Security Intelligence Service ordered the checks as part of an urgent investigation of what one SIS officer described as the suspicious activities of several groups of Israelis during and immediately after the earthquake.

Three Israelis were among the 181 people who died when the earthquake destroyed most of Christchurch's central business district on February 22. One was found to be carrying at least five passports.

The Jerusalem Post picked up the reports without adding additional information, and opened the story to comments from the public.

Some of those commenting accused New Zealand of paranoia and anti-semitism, while others were critical of New Zealand's refusal to allow Israeli search and rescue teams to help following the quake.

The site Haaretz.com is also reporting the story, highlighting John Key's Jewish ancestry.

It writes: "The report claims Israel's reaction to the casualties and missing Israeli citizens was unprecedented."

"For example, Prime Minister John Key, who is Jewish, spoke with his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu four times the day of the earthquake."

Key's mother was an Austrian-Jewish immigrant.

Ynet news reports with the headline 'NZ quake victims - Mossad agents'.

Comment from the Israeli government was yet to feature in the reports.

The Israeli media reported extensively on the earthquake at the time.

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