MOSCOW, September 15 (RIA Novosti) – The government of New Zealand has been cooperating with the United States in conducting mass surveillance of its citizens, US whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange revealed Monday, ahead of this weekend's parliamentary elections in New Zealand.
"When you control the surveillance systems of another country…you have in fact proceeded with annexing that country and that is what in fact is happening in New Zealand," Assange said via video connection at a media conference organized by Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, adding that the United States is actively trying to expand its influence to impose control over other countries.
The conference was held in Auckland, New Zealand, to promote Dotcom's party at the upcoming general elections in the country. It was attended by US journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is one of the founding editors of The Intercept, an online publication, which cooperates closely with Edward Snowden, who also took part in the conference, via video connection.
In an article published by The Intercept Monday morning, Snowden claimed that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which is New Zealand's intelligence agency, shares the same mass surveillance tool – XKEYSCORE - with the US National Security Agency (NSA).
"Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched," Snowden wrote.
The ex-NSA contractor stressed that GCSB surveillance "is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals" private email, text messages, and internet traffic."
"It means they have the ability to see every website you visit, every text message you send, every call you make, every ticket you purchase, every donation you make, and every book you order online," Snowden explained.
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key has told the press that "there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders." Speaking to reporters Saturday, Key said that Dotcom is trying to "gear monger" the upcoming parliamentary elections in New Zealand.