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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.

Go deeper

Army disciplines 14 officials over “multiple failures” at Fort Hood

Candles and flowers decorate a makeshift memorial for U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén in Houston, Texas. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Army fired or suspended more than a dozen officials after an investigation into climate and culture at Fort Hood found "multiple failures" in how the Army handles soldier disappearances, deaths and sexual harassment complaints, Army secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday.

Driving the news: The independent review was launched after the murder of 20-year-old Spc. Vanessa Guillén, who told family and friends she had been sexually harassed before she disappeared from Fort Hood in April. Her remains were found in June.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.