New Zealand PM confirms intel agency inquiry after mosque attacks

Police collect evidence at the Al Noor mosque on March 19, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand, where worshippers were gunned down four days ago. (AFP / William West)
Updated 19 March 2019

New Zealand PM confirms intel agency inquiry after mosque attacks

  • The inquiry would look at the intelligence service, communications security bureau, as well as police, customs and immigration agencies
  • Heads of these agencies welcomed the inquiry to identify loopholes

CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed there will be an inquiry into the country's intelligence agencies in the wake of Friday's mosque shootings in Christchurch.
 
Ardern said the inquiry would investigate if the agencies “could or should have known” about the alleged shooter Brenton Tarrant, or his activities prior to the attacks.
 
She said the inquiry would look at the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS), Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), as well as police, customs and immigration agencies. 
 
The inquiry would also consider if the agencies were in a position to prevent the attack and whether there were issues around information sharing between agencies. 
 
Ardern said no decisions had been made about who would lead the inquiry. The terms of reference were now being finalized. 
 
Police welcomed the government's inquiry.
 
"It is important we learn any lessons we can from this tragedy," New Zealand's Police Commissioner Mike Bush said. 
 
SIS Director Rebecca Kitteridge also welcomed the inquiry.
 
"We embrace the opportunity to learn from this terrible experience," she said in a statement.
 
There were "important questions that need answers", Kitteridge said.
 
GCSB Director-General Andrew Hampton said the inquiry was important.
 
"It is of the utmost importance that the public are assured that GCSB acted lawfully and appropriately," he said.
 
Both intelligence agencies confirmed they had no prior intelligence on the accused gunman, Brenton Tarrant, before he allegedly gunned down 50 people at two Christchurch mosques on Friday. 


Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong arrested for 2019 ‘unlawful assembly’

Updated 11 min 39 sec ago

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong arrested for 2019 ‘unlawful assembly’

  • The 23-year-old pro-democracy figure said on Twitter he was being held for violating the “draconian anti-mask law”
HONG KONG: Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was arrested on Thursday in relation to a protest at the height of the city’s pro-democracy unrest last year, his lawyer said.
The detention of the city’s most high-profile dissident is the latest in a string of arrests of government critics and comes after China imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong in late June.
He was arrested for “unlawful assembly” over a 2019 demonstration against a government ban on face masks that was imposed before the coronavirus pandemic, his lawyer said.
The 23-year-old pro-democracy figure said on Twitter he was also being held for violating the “draconian anti-mask law,” which has since been ruled unconstitutional.
Wong’s lawyer told AFP he was arrested when he reported to a police station concerning another case against him, for which he is currently on trial.
“Wong is accused of participating in an unlawful assembly on October 5 last year, when hundreds marched to oppose an anti-mask ban the government rolled out,” lawyer Jonathan Man said.
The march that day came after much of the city had ground to a halt with the subway suspended and many shops and malls shuttered following a night of violence.
Hundreds of protesters, almost all masked, staged the unsanctioned demonstration through the popular shopping district of Causeway Bay, a day after the city’s leader Carrie Lam outlawed masks by invoking colonial-era emergency powers not used for half a century.
The act of resistance came after a night of widespread chaos as hardcore protesters trashed dozens of subway stations, vandalized shops with mainland China ties, built fires and blocked roads. Many chanted “No rioters, only tyranny” and other popular protest slogans.
At the time of the march, Hong Kong had already been battered by four months of increasingly violent pro-democracy protests.