From the inside: Iti tweets
Jailed Maori activist Tame Iti has set up a Twitter account offering snippets of his life from inside Waikeria Prison, but Corrections says, so far, there is no problem.
Using the hashtag #lifeinside, Iti has revealed he is earning 40 cents an hour working in a prison garage, but cannot have more than $200 in his account at any one time.
"Arohamai, the money in the account has to come from whanau, if you have no support then you have no money."
Iti also offered insights into gang life within prison.
"In here there are no gang patches, but there are still gangs. It is not the patch that you need to fix, it's the conditions that create them."
Inmates in all prisons are banned from using cellphones and the internet, but Iti's bio said he was using the prison phone to relay his tweets back to his whanau who were maintaining his account for him.
Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Emily Bailey and Urs Signer were accused of running military-style training camps in the Urewera Ranges in 2007.
In May, Iti and Kemara were sentenced to two-and-a-half years jail for convictions including five firearms charges and possessing Molotov cocktails.
The account, set up on August 27, was also linked to a Facebook page. While by this morning, Iti had so far only amassed just over 350 followers on Twitter, more than 5000 people were seeing and commenting on his messages on the Facebook page.
On August 28, Iti tweeted he was denied bail, pending the outcome of his appeal.
"Bail Declined - Ahh well, time to do some painting and enjoy this beautiful day."
Both Iti and Kemara have appealed the weapons charges on which they were imprisoned, and while they've had the hearing, the pair were still waiting on a decision.
Corrections services regional manager central Terry Buffery said prisoners could not under any circumstances access the internet themselves.
"Social networking sites require no verification of a person's identity, and as such can be created on behalf of a person, or even fraudulently.
"We have been made aware in the past of pages being set up for prisoners by associates outside of prison.
"This is not a concern to Corrections unless the material posted from social networking accounts threatens the safety of the public or our staff, or jeopardises the operational security of a prison. If this were to happen we would immediately notify the police."
Buffery said Corrections was aware of Iti's Twitter account was able to monitor the content of its tweets.
Corrections was also able to monitor prisoner phone calls if it thought there was reason to.
Corrections would not comment on whether it was doing that for Iti, but Buffery said they were aware of Iti's social media presence some time ago.
- © Fairfax NZ News