WELLINGTON, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Monday released previously classified documents regarding the country's security agencies as his government became the latest target of claims by U.S. spy whistleblower Edward Snowden that it had illegally spied on its own people.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald and Snowden both had articles posted on The Intercept news site claiming Key was being untruthful about information gathered by New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and that the GCSB was sharing the information with "Five Eyes" spying partners in the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.
Snowden's article stated: "Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false."
Key, who has consistently denied New Zealand's spy agencies are conducting mass surveillance, said he was releasing the government documents because the claims were "simply wrong" and based on incomplete information.
"There is not, and never has been, a cable access surveillance program operating in New Zealand. There is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB," Key said in a statement.
Key said he could not discuss specific allegations that the GCSB was contributing data to the "XKEYSCORE" tool used by the U.S. National Security Agency, where Snowden said he routinely came across data from New Zealand.
Earlier, Key admitted for the first time that the GCSB had worked on a proposal for mass data collection, but it was killed before a public debate on changing New Zealand's spy laws last year.
However, he said in the statement, the released documents showed that the government had discussed and approved measures for a cyber-security operations to protect public and private sector entities from the increasing threat of cyber-attack.
Greenwald said in a live broadcast of his revelations late Monday that Key had been "shameless" in releasing declassified documents regarding national security to protect his own reputation.
Either the documents had been wrongly classified originally because they were politically embarrassing or Key was putting his own reputation above national security.
Greenwald was speaking at a public event -- billed as "The Moment of Truth" -- organized by Internet mogul Kim Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the United States on charges of copyright piracy and money laundering, but he denied he had any political motives or was personally profiting from the appearance.