Nov 25, 2020 - World

Soldier faces spying charges in first case of its kind in New Zealand

An image of the badge of a New Zealand soldier

Photo: New Zealand Defense Force

A soldier based in New Zealand has been charged with spying, the NZ Defense Force confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

Why it matters: The soldier allegedly has ties to far-right extremist groups, per multiple local media reports. They're the first person to face espionage charges in New Zealand.

  • The charges come some three months after a white supremacist was sentenced to life in prison for opening fire on worshippers in two Christchurch mosques in 2019, killing 51 people in one of the world's worst shootings by a single gunman.

Driving the news: The soldier, based at Linton Military Camp near the city of Palmerston North on New Zealand's North Island, was arrested in December last year.

  • The country's director of military prosecutions charged the soldier in the Court Martial of New Zealand with four charges of espionage, two counts of attempted espionage; two charges of possession of an objectionable publication and three of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose.
  • The soldier also faces one charge of "doing an act likely to prejudice Service discipline or bring discredit on the Service," one of "negligently failing to perform a duty" and also four counts of failing to comply with written orders, per the statement.
  • No date has yet been set for the Court Martial hearing of the soldier, who has name suppression. A New Zealand Defense Force spokesperson declined to comment further.
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