Wednesday, September 04, 2013

More on the SIS and Fiji's dictator

Winston Peters has continued his allegations against the SIS in Parliament today, both in Question Time and in the General Debate. In the former, he alleged that the SIS had

breached section 131 of the Search and Surveillance Act when they failed to produce evidence of their identity and refused to produce a copy of the search warrant when they illegally raided former Fijian Cabinet Minister Rajesh Singh’s home in Auckland
[Link added]

If the SIS and police were exercising a search warrant issued under that Act (presumably one applied for by police, as SIS cannot exercise such powers themselves), then this would be a clear violation of the law, and one which needs to be punished. While the Act does allow people exercising search powers to not initially identify themselves in certain circumstances, there's no exception to the requirement to produce a warrant. But there's another possible explanation: the power being used was not a search warrant issued under the Search and Surveillance Act 2012, but a domestic intelligence warrant issued under the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act 1969. There's no requirement that persons exercising such a warrant identify themselves or produce a copy, because the assumption is that such warrants are exercised in secret (by e.g. the SIS breaking into your home when they think you're out, then running away when a friend unexpectedly stops by). But while that gets the government off the hook for an illegal search, it puts them on a new one for illegal detention, in that Mr Singh was detained incidental to the search, something which is not authorised by the NZSIS Act and contrary to the NZBORA.

We will probably have an answer in the next month: the law requires the SIS to annually report on its use of domestic intelligence warrants, including the methods used to exercise them, in its annual report. If those methods include physical search and seizure, then we can be sure that it was an intelligence warrant (and therefore that Singh was unlawfully detained).

But it gets worse. According to Peters, Singh was texted by an agent of the Fijian regime durign the search, who was clearly aware the search was happening. The implication is that the SIS had colluded with a brutal military dictatorship, and was acting as its New Zealand lapdog. He also claims that members of the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement were among the 88 New Zealanders illegally spied on by the GCSB. If so, I think that shows that the Prime Minister's claim that they were all dangerous people was an outright lie.

Knowing Peters, there's more where this came from. But what's already been revealed casts the SIS in a very bad light, and suggests that they too need a thorough cleanout.