What do we make of PM Jacinda Ardern’s pushback against reports that Chinese intelligence agents were behind the break-ins at the Christchurch home of Canterbury University Professor Anne Marie Brady?
Consider her words.
Four Corners, an Australian current affairs TV show, reported:
“Government sources have confirmed to Four Corners that intelligence assessments identified China’s spy service as the prime suspect behind the intimidation of Brady.”
Ardern, the minister responsible for national security, says she had seen no such assessment.
“This claim is completely wrong. I have received no advice identifying the Ministry of State Security as the prime suspect.”
Australia and New Zealand are members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. The Ministry of State Security is the Chinese government agency responsible for foreign intelligence and political security. Not surprisingly there are other agencies doing undercover work.
What now? Look carefully at what she said. She had not received any assessment that the Ministry of State Security was involved. Of course, we take her at her word – but is she simply dissembling?
Few of those close to Professor Brady believe the persons who broke into her home and her office – taking specific items such as a laptop and a mobile phone but not touching more valuable items – were mere burglars. If they were, why leave the saleable goodies?
They evidently had a shopping list.
Let’s not overlook that the police and the SIS (charged with counter-intelligence) spent more than a year on very detailed inquiries which led them overseas and inside the NZ Chinese community. The case was closed as “unresolved”.
This is frequently the case in intelligence work, where the protagonists are invariably professionals who leave little or no evidence behind. They tend to be in the category of the Scottish legal definition of a case being not proven.