New Zealand Immigration under fire for Stasi tactics

Published:  12 Dec at 6 PM
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Whether a worrying indication of the global police state or a bad hair day for an immigration officer, the ‘goings on’ at Kiwi immigration checkpoints are hitting international media outlets.

It all started when a New Zealand citizen returning from London with his fiancée was detained at the airport and forced to hand over his iPad, smartphones, external hard drive and laptop. Immigration also demanded his passwords in order to access the content of his IT equipment.

The 27-year old graduate in online copyright infringement had been in the air for 24 hours, after having attended a talk on the NSA leaks and Edward Snowden in London. Suspicious minds are linking his attendance with the fact that New Zealand is in the Five Eyes Spy network via several hosted stations.

Noting the resemblance between this incident and the detention in transit by UK immigration officials of David Miranda, whose electronic equipment was also confiscated under terrorism regulations, conspiracy theorists are up in arms. Miranda, of course, was linked to Snowden through his partner, journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Observers are also noting that NZ isn’t usually as tough on innocent travellers as is the UK, in spite of the Five Eyes connection. The New Zealand Herald, hot on the trail of human rights violations, is concerned about the legality of accessing private data without a court order.

Although, on the face of this issue, it would seem to be a case of bad hair day rather than international conspiracy, it’s of concern to expats returning to NZ after a visit home. Local commentators are calling the incident a worrying domestic development and are looking for explanations from NZ Immigration.
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