New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was accused of misleading the public by Edward Snowden in a new series of leaks that highlight similarities in the surveillance programs overseen by both President Barack Obama and one of his closest English-speaking political friends on the world stage.
Snowden aimed his Monday morning essay at Key, the prime minister since 2008 and leader of New Zealand’s centrist, right-leaning National Party. Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald are leading somewhat of a high-profile anti-surveillance push in the country centered around New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).
“At the NSA, I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called ‘X KEYSCORE,” Snowden wrote. “The GCSB provides mass surveillance data into XKEYSCORE. They also provide access to the communications of millions of New Zealanders to the NSA at places such as the GCSB facility in Waihopai, and the Prime Minister is personally aware of this fact.”
Key shot back, denying all of the claims outright.
“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 program operating in New Zealand. There is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB,” Key said.
Key is a golf buddy of Obama’s, and one of the president’s closest friends among world leaders. He was at the White House in June and golfed with Obama in Hawaii this winter.
“The last time I saw him, we were on a golf course in Hawaii with his son,” Obama said of his “good friend” Key in the Oval Office this summer, “and although we will not divulge the scores it is important to know that John’s son Max can outdrive both of us by a substantial amount.”