Snowden docs: NSA, New Zealand plotted to hack Chinese

The National Security Agency (NSA) collaborated with New Zealand on a plan to digitally monitor Chinese diplomats, according to documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The operation centered on breaking into a data link between two Chinese diplomatic offices in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.


While it is unclear whether the break-in ever took place, Snowden’s documents reveal that the NSA and New Zealand were “formally coordinating” on the plan in 2013.

The scheme was documented in a secret report called “NSA activities in progress 2013” that was reported Saturday by The Intercept, a publication that supports Snowden’s efforts.

The NSA’s elite Tailored Access Operations unit was receiving “additional technical data” from New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau on the data link, one document stated.

The two agencies had “verbally agreed to move forward with a cooperative passive and active effort against this link,” it said.

China is a major adversary of the United States online, and is known to hack companies to collect financial data and trade secrets.

Snowden’s documents reveal New Zealand’s odd position as a security ally of the United States and a trading partner of China, ties that frequently present conflicts.

The Intercept raised the possibility that New Zealand “may have violated international treaties that prohibit the interception of diplomatic communications” in its project with the NSA.

China, meanwhile, expressed concerns about the report.

“We attach great importance to the cybersecurity issue … We will firmly safeguard our security interests and continue to guarantee our cyber and information security with concrete measures,” a Chinese embassy spokesman told the Herald on Sunday.