Key’s denial of the allegations made in the Fairfax story is pretty comprehensive:
Mr Key also moved to correct points raised in the media concerning the number of passports that were found with a man who died in the earthquake. Mr Key said his advice was that the man was found with only one passport, of European origin. Media reports that he was found with five are incorrect. The other three people who had been in the van took their own passports with them when they left the country, and handed over the deceased man’s Israeli passport to Israeli representatives before departing.
“None of the passports were New Zealand passports,” Mr Key said.
Mr Key said he has been assured by Police that there has been no unauthorised access to the Police computer system.
Mr Key also confirmed he spoke once with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the days following the earthquake. Many other leaders also called to express their condolences and to offer assistance to New Zealand. It took several attempts by Israeli representatives to set up the phone call, as is commonly the case with such calls in the circumstances of a major natural disaster.
“The investigations that have been undertaken have been thorough and have found no evidence of a link between the group and Israeli intelligence,” Mr Key said.
The opposition can call upon Key to stand by this statement in the house. Given the choice between believing the PM or an unnamed SIS source, I’m gonna believe Key every time.
So what happened? Well, maybe there were spies but nobody proved anything. But it’s also possible that an SIS officer – suspicious about Israelis in general after the previous incident of passport theft – pieced several rumours and incidents together and raised the alarm, various investigations were undertaken, nothing came to light and the investigation was closed, to the chagrin of the SIS officer who felt that Israeli intelligence had gotten away with something, so he took his theories to the media. However it happened, SIS appears to have created a diplomatic incident.
And the PM inflamed it – when first asked to comment he refused to on the grounds of ‘national security’, which was a de-facto admission that the story had substance. Presumably – as with recent SAS incidents in Afghanistan – he didn’t actually know anything about it, which is weird since it was a lead story in New Zealand for several hours before the media questioned Key in Los Angeles.