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Spy watchdog expresses concern over US

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/05/2017

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, has expressed concern over US President Donald Trump's statements about torture and the leak of highly sensitive information to the US media.

In an interview with Newsroom, she said those issues had increased the importance of safeguards around New Zealand's intelligence-sharing relationship with other countries.

Earlier this month is was reported President Trump had shared classified information with Russia that was considered too sensitive to share with the five eyes partners, including New Zealand.

Last week, British police briefly stopped sharing information about the Manchester bombing after information was leaked to the US media.

"I think it's an issue that the agencies are very aware of, and will be looking at," Ms Gwyn said.

Referring to President Trump's statements, she said he had talked about torture and that he thought it was effective.

"Who knows whether that might lead to anything or might not, but to me it signals that the New Zealand agencies must have their own protections in place, they must have their own practices and policies around how they share intelligence, how they work together with other agencies to make sure that they are not somehow drawn into unlawful activity," she said.

Work on developing guidelines on intelligence sharing, already underway, should make sure New Zealand agencies were not "inadvertently complicit" in any unlawful activity carried out by others, Ms Gwyn said.

"I think that's going to be really important."

A spokesman for the minister responsible for the SIS and the GCSB, Chris Finlayson, told Newsroom "it remains in our national interest to continue to work closely with the United States on security and intelligence matters".

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