SIS Raid on Iranian Embassy a Crime Against Sovereignty

SIS and GCSB Minister Andrew Little. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

It has been revealed on the RNZ show ‘The Service’ that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Security Intelligence Services (SIS) broke into and bugged the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Wellington in collaboration with the CIA. 

The Embassy is now threatening legal action against the New Zealand governments as this is a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention, which states that “the premises of the mission should be inviolable”.

This comes following recent revelations that the SIS broke into the Czechoslovakian and Indian Embassies to photograph codes for MI6 and the CIA. Helen Clark, former minister for the SIS, even went so far as to say that the invasion of the Czechoslovakian Embassy in Wellington “probably was” justified.

Andrew Little, the current Minister for the SIS, has appallingly refused to say whether the SIS still breaks into foreign missions.

Though the SIS was established in 1956, it wasn’t until 1977 that Robert Muldoon’s government passed amendments which greatly broadened its powers, especially those of surveillance. It is an agency which is engaged not only in foreign intelligence as part of the Five Eyes network, but which has a long history of targeting the Left in this country. Countless activists striving for a better world have been spied on and intimidated by this thoroughly undemocratic institution.

The SIS’ active collaboration with other Five Eyes countries––US, UK, Canada, Australia––threatens not just the sovereignty of independent countries around the world, but of the sovereignty and democracy of this country.  The coup of progressive Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975 highlighted this clearly. The CIA had an effective control over “our man” Governor General Kerr and Australia’s SIS, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Whitlam was a principled social-democrat who sought for Australia to chart an independent course. For this, following extensive intimidation and bugging, he was sacked by ‘Sir’ John Kerr and Australia to this day remains a glove on the American fist in the Asia-Pacific region.

The relationship that the SIS evidently maintains with the Five Eyes powers puts our national sovereignty, and aspirations for an independent foreign policy of peace, at great risk.

Raids on foreign missions need to be completely excluded from the powers of the SIS. Such an odious institution has no rightful place in Aotearoa, and all progressive people in this country should work tirelessly to hasten its end.