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Archive for New Zealand

Newsline: New Zealand Diplomat Found Guilty of Planting Camera in Embassy Toilet

A former top-tanking New Zealand official has been found guilty of planting a secret camera in a unisex bathroom at the country’s U.S. embassy. Alfred Keating was the highest ranking official at New Zealand’s embassy in Washington D.C. when the camera was discovered in 2017. Auckland District Court heard earlier this month that the camera was hidden in a heating duct and was only found by a staff member when the device fell onto the floor and they spotted a tiny camera lens. (https://www.thedailybeast.com/alfred-keating-new-zealand-diplomat-found-guilty-of-planting-camera-in-unisex-us-embassy-toilet) It was covered in a layer of dust which suggested it had been there for some time. New Zealand police found over 700 deleted files and 20 existing files on the memory card, including 19 images of people using the bathroom. Keating’s DNA matched traces found on the memory card in the camera. He now faces up to 18 months in prison and will be sentenced on 25 June.

Newsline: New Zealand naval officer on trial over secret camera in embassy bathroom

One of New Zealand’s former top-ranked military officials is on trial in Auckland charged with planting a secret camera in a unisex bathroom at the country’s embassy in Washington. Alfred Keating, 59, was a commodore in the New Zealand navy and was one of the country’s most senior naval officers before he resigned in 2018 following the allegations. He denies all charges. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/09/top-new-zealand-naval-officer-on-trial-over-secret-camera-in-embassy-bathroom) Keating was serving as a defence attache at New Zealand’s embassy in Washington when a small, covert camera was discovered in a unisex bathroom after it fell out of a hiding spot in a heating duct on 27 July, 2017. The crown alleges the motion-activated camera was positioned to capture intimate video recordings of anyone using the toilet, and the case was not one of espionage or spy activity. Crown prosecutor Henry Steele told the court that investigators began to suspect Keating after examining the buildings swipe card records, the New Zealand Herald reported. In November 2017 police searched Keating’s home in New Zealand and found searches on his laptop for the security company BrickHouse Security, whose logo was found on the hidden camera, and also searches for how to “set up” a secret camera, the New Zealand Herald reported. Keating’s Fitbit watch was also seized, Steele said, and “extremely strong scientific support” suggested male DNA found on the memory card inside the camera matched Keating’s. Ron Mansfield, Keating’s lawyer, said despite the salacious nature of the case the allegations were weak and would disappoint jurors, who had been warned to keep some matters of “national security” secret during the trial, such as the detailed lay-out of the embassy in Washington. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Newsline: New Zealand’s new embassy in China a ‘significant diplomatic’ space

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand’s new $50 million embassy in Beijing, China is “one of our most significant diplomatic spaces”. The compound features a whare replete with tukutuku panels carved by a Māori carver, but have done away with the tennis courts. It was a project which began under former Prime Minister John Key, but has been formally opened by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/111675940/new-zealands-new-embassy-in-china) “This is a significant event for New Zealand, you’ll see from this building that this is one our most significant diplomatic spaces we have abroad,” she said. “It demonstrates the importance of the relationship and the strength of the relationship going forward.”

Newsline: US Ambassador to New Zealand qualifies for world triathlon championship for his age bracket

United States Ambassador Scott Brown, long known as a rock ’n’ roll and fitness buff, could be headed to Switzerland next summer to test his chops as a triathlete on the world stage. Brown, 59, a former Republican senator from Massachusetts, shared the news in a weekend Twitter post from New Zealand. “In #Tauranga for the Olympic Distance Triathlon National Championships,” Brown tweeted. “Crazy weather, tons of bike issues, but finished 2nd. Yippee. Qualified for worlds in Switzerland.”


Newsline: Brexit vote prompts New Zealand to open embassy in Ireland

New Zealand opened its first ever embassy in Ireland with a traditional Maori blessing and a visit by the country’s deputy prime minister. The embassy, on Merrion Row in Dublin city centre, will help cement existing ties with the Pacific and benefit future trade relationships between Ireland and New Zealand, officials said. The new ambassador, Brad Burgess, was joined by government officials and deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Winston Peters for the ceremony. Mr Peters said the opening of the embassy was triggered by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union two years ago. “The moment the Brexit decision happened on the 23rd of June 2016, it became very clear that we would have to, with respect to Ireland, set up an embassy here.” It was “one of the first decisions we made that we could no longer think of servicing out of London, which was what had been going on in the past. That’s why we made the decision”, Mr Peters said. Mr Peters said New Zealand needed a close relationship with Ireland “and vice versa”.


Newsline: Debt-dodging diplomat’s time in New Zealand is up, but money might yet be paid

The diplomat at the centre of a row over unpaid rent for a flash seaside house in Wellington is leaving the country, but her landlord still hopes he will be paid the money he is owed. Eva Tvarozkova, deputy chief of mission for the European Union Delegation to New Zealand, has finished her term and is on the eve of departing New Zealand. Her departure was unconnected to the Tenancy Tribunal case over unpaid rent, the delegation’s political adviser, Lucy Ross said. Her lease of a $1500 a week home in Karaka Bay was supposed to be a three-year tenancy but was abandoned after about six months. Landlords Matthew Ryan and Rebecca Van Den Bos obtained a Tenancy Tribunal order on March 22 awarding them $14,314.27. They should also have got the $6000 bond the tenant paid. But the order was overturned when diplomatic immunity was used to avoid paying the bill. However, Ryan hopes the delegation will make good on an offer to resolve the matter. The European Union and European External Action Service, which oversees EU diplomats, has cleared Tvarozkova. They reviewed the documents and said she complied with her obligations under the lease, according to a statement they issued. In pointing out the immunity to the Tenancy Tribunal they took the necessary legal steps to oppose the landlord’s claims and to protect a staff member from an action it considered unfounded in fact and in law, they said.


Newsline: EU diplomat uses immunity to avoid rent in New Zealand

A European Union staffer has dodged a bill worth thousands of dollars to a landlord by invoking diplomatic immunity in New Zealand. A tribunal in March ordered the EU Delegation’s deputy head of mission in New Zealand, Eva Tvarozkova, to pay $NZ20,000 ($A18,326) to her landlord for unpaid rent and property damage at a Wellington house. Although she didn’t contest the original hearing, Ms Tvarozkova’s lawyers later returned to the tenancy body and argued, as a diplomat, she didn’t have to foot the bill. While New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs lobbied the European delegation to consider waiving immunity, it had no luck, and the tribunal has now overturned its decision, saying Ms Tvarozkova was indeed protected.