Thursday, July 19, 2012

Is the SIS working for Bainimarama now?

Last night, news emerged that the SIS had raided several members of Auckland's exiled Fijian community, all of them members of the democracy movement, alleging an assassination plot against Fijian dictator Voreqe Bainimarama. No-one was arrested, but computers and cellphones were seized (and no doubt cloned for further study and compromised so as to provide a further source of intelligence).

Murder, even of a dictator, is a crime, and not something we should permit or condone. At the same time, its worth asking: was this a real plot, or were the SIS jumping at shadows? And were those shadows ones they'd seen themselves, or fed to them by Fiji's notoriously paranoid regime? Are the SIS effectively serving as agents of a foreign dictatorship to oppress its democratic opposition?

Sadly, the SIS won't answer questions about how they learned of this "plot", so we can only look at the public evidence. And here, the lack of arrests is significant. Planning a foreign murder from New Zealand is a crime here, and you'd expect that if such a plot was real, those involved in its planning would be looking at a courtroom by now. The fact that no-one is tells us that there is no evidence even to support the weaker "reasonable grounds" standard for arrest. In other words, they have no evidence that would convince a reasonable person to believe they were planning a murder.

Under those circumstances, raiding people's homes and taking their private communications looks decidedly dubious - and all the more so given the political nature of the group targeted.