Revelations emerge over Linton-based soldier accused of espionage

Kate Nicol-Williams
Source: 1News

The first soldier accused of espionage in New Zealand’s modern history is also charged with being part of a white supremacy group and possessing a recording of the Christchurch mosque attack livestream, classified as objectionable material.

The soldier is also accused of possessing a copy of the Christchurch terrorist attack livestream.

The charges, laid in November last year by the Director of Military Prosecutions under the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971, have been provided to 1News revealing new detail about the alleged crimes.

The Linton-based soldier remains on military arrest with a trial date yet to be set.

It’s alleged the 28-year-old was a member of the far-right Dominion Movement/Action Zealandia group between 2017 and December 2019.

The charge sheet says the group’s identitarian ideology is inconsistent with the standards of conduct expected of army staff.

He’s also charged with failing to report that he’d found classified intelligence training information in a Pams chiller bag in 2019 and failing to report contact from who he believed was an official from a foreign country.

The espionage charges relate to the soldier allegedly copying telephone directories for Defence Force locations and recording maps and an aerial photo of Linton Military Camp with intent to share these with a person acting on behalf of a foreign country.

An assessment of weaknesses in the camp’s physical security, access codes for entering the camp as well as Ohakea Air Base, details from a Defence Force identity card and personal details to access a Defence Force computer system were also allegedly recorded for this purpose.

The accused has also been charged with sharing some of this information, attempting to share other documents and obtaining photos of other Defence Force locations, maps and telephone directories.

Other charges include possessing a document about a racist conspiracy theory deemed objectionable material and possessing ammunition without authority.

The 17 charges were laid as the result of a joint investigation by the Defence Force and police.

The soldier was taken into military custody in December 2019 after police carried out a search warrant at Linton Military Camp, near Palmerston North.

Espionage carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.

The soldier appeared through an audio visual link for the first time in a Court Martial pre-trial hearing on Monday.

Chief Judge of the Court Martial of New Zealand Kevin Riordan suppressed the name of the country the soldier is accused of providing information to because of the risk to national security.