New Zealand’s intelligence agency warned Thursday about the “persistent” threat of foreign interference in the country by “a small number of foreign States.”
The New Zealand Security and Intelligence Service (NZSIS) annual report, which covers the fiscal year from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, said that “attempts by some states to interfere in our democracy, economy and civil society are persistent.”
It said it had “prioritized investigations into individuals conducting potential and assessed intelligence activity associated with a small number of foreign states. We identified increasingly aggressive activity from some of those individuals.”
“These individuals pose an enduring threat to New Zealand’s national security,” the agency added in the report published this week on its website.
The intelligence agency said that over the same period it investigated a number of individuals living in the country who sought to create relationships with New Zealanders who had access to sensitive information, with the aim of collecting intelligence data against the government.
“For some states, these activities are enduring and persistent,” the document notes.
The agency also identified a New Zealand person “likely being targeted by a foreign intelligence service due to their political views” and also “continued a long-running espionage and interference investigation into a number of individuals connected to a foreign state.”
“We assess these individuals are intelligence officers who are undertaking intelligence activity in New Zealand. The NZSIS has identified increasingly concerning activity from these individuals over the reporting period, including the cultivation of a range of relationships of significant concern,” it said.
New Zealand, which maintains security pacts and close alliances with Western powers, has in recent years censured China for a 2021 wave of cyber attacks linked to Beijing, and Russia for its malicious cyber activity against Ukraine in 2022.
The report also highlights the situation in the South Pacific, where China and the United States are increasingly battling for power.
In this important region, where a handful of small island nations traditionally linked to Australia and New Zealand are located, the Wellington government criticized the opaque security pact sealed in April 2022 between China and the Solomon Islands.
This pact, which aroused fears on the part of countries such as the US about the growing influence of China in the Pacific, allows the sending of Chinese troops at the request of Honiara, an agreement similar to the one that the Solomon authorities have traditionally maintained with Australia and New Zealand.
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