September 15, 2014 - 15:36 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden claims there is a U.S. National Security Agency facility in Auckland and in the north of New Zealand, Stuff.co.nz reports.
The former U.S. contractor-turned-fugitive whistleblower was beamed into the Auckland Town Hall from Russia for Kim Dotcom's "Moment of Truth" event.
As an NSA infrastructure analyst he "realised the absolute scale of how deep this went."
Hours beforehand, in a report on the website of journalist Glenn Greenwald, Snowden claimed that while working for the U.S. NSA he "routinely" came across the communications of New Zealanders while working in the XKeyscore mass surveillance tool.
"It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic," he wrote.
A network of sensors placed around the world would allow him to search on an email address. One of those sensors is in New Zealand.
Snowden said X-Keyscore is collecting the communications of people in New Zealand and it is not related to foreign intelligence.
Snowden said that within the Five Eyes intelligence network, New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) contributes to the collection of communications.
"There is not just metadata... and specifically the GCSB not only uses X-Keyscore, they have expanded it, they have contributed to its development."
Only a "checkbox" in the programme prevents the communications - which contains intimate personal details - being revealed to other overseas agencies, he said.
Before the event began, Prime Minister John Key released a series of Cabinet papers in a bid to counter what he claims is "misinformation" about the operations of GCSB.
"Claims have been made tonight that are simply wrong and that is because they are based on incomplete information. There is not, and never has been, a cable access surveillance programme operating in New Zealand," Key said in a statement.
"There is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB."