New Spying Claims: Australian Spy Agency Sought Help of U.S. for More Surveillance on Australians

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By Reissa Su | May 14, 2014 5:17 PM EST

Documents from a U.S. agency had revealed that Australia has sought the help of the Americans to increase surveillance on suspected terrorists. According to The Guardian, Australia's intelligence agency needed the help of the U.S. spy agency to monitor Australians suspected of having ties with extremists.

Reuters
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is seen in this still image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong. Picture taken June 6, 2013. (REUTERS/Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/Courtesy of The Guardian/Handout via Reuters)

On May 13, documents from the U.S. National Security Agency published in the book No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald revealed new details regarding Australia's close relationship with NSA.

In a document dated Feb 21, 2011, the acting deputy director of Australia's Defence Signals Directorate which has been renamed as the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) was requesting for more surveillance on Australians.

The excerpted text read, "We would very much welcome the opportunity to extend that partnership with NSA to cover the increasing number of Australians involved in international extremist activities - in particular Australians involved with AQAP." The book said AQAP in the text stands for Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Previously, a leaked intelligence memo was passed on to the Guardian from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The leaked document showed that the DSD, the GCSB's counterpart in Australia, had offered to supply metadata on Australian citizens in 2008. The reported data was offered to the Five Eyes network, the UK, U.S., New Zealand and Canada.

In a testimony to the European Parliament, Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had helped create and find "loopholes" in New Zealand law to allow widespread eavesdropping. The former NSA employee said the spy agency's Foreign Affairs Division pressured other countries to modify their laws to create legal gaps so a mass surveillance will be possible.

Snowden said the lawyers at UK's GCHQ assisted in finding those legal hopes, while both agencies slipped the changes past unknowing politicians. The Foreign Affairs Department's "legal guidance" operations have been going on between Sweden, Netherlands and New Zealand.The exiled Snowden gave no further details about the NSA's "legal guidance" to New Zealand. His written testimony was sent ahead of the ongoing debate in the European Union about the decision to freeze its data agreements with the U.S.

Following the spying claims made against Australia by Indonesia, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key sought confirmation from GCSB Director Ian Fletcher that the spy agency does not collect metadata from Kiwis.

Australia's defence department sent a statement regarding the new details of spying claims against Australians. The statement said the "Defence will not comment" when it comes to specific intelligence issues. 

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(Photo: Reuters / )
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is seen in this still image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong. Picture taken June 6, 2013. (REUTERS/Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/Courtesy of The Guardian/Handout via Reuters)
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