By Sarah McDougall, NZ Newswire
Updated January 19, 2013, 6:04 pm
A scuffle broke out between protesters and police outside the Waihopai spy base in Marlborough when activists climbed the fence.
Up to 40 protesters, calling for the site to be closed, gathered outside the base near Blenheim on Saturday, Anti-Bases Campaign spokesman Murray Horton told NZ Newswire.
About 20 climbed the fence to deliver a letter to the base commander, which asked in light of the Kim Dotcom case, how many other New Zealanders have been illegally spied on.
The activists got a few metres along the road before police intervened, insisting they go no further, and there was “a bit of a scuffle”, Mr Horton said.
“One woman was pushed to the ground,” he said.
Police threatened to arrest the activists, who then returned to the public highway.
No one was arrested.
Mr Horton said it was the first time activists had entered the property since 2008 when three men deflated one of the plastic domes housing a satellite dish. The men were later acquitted.
“We wanted to do a little bit to reassert some New Zealand sovereignty over our land and to actually say we don’t want this place to continue functioning in our name,” he said.
“The New Zealand taxpayers fund it and it’s staffed by New Zealanders but effectively it operates under the instructions of US intelligence.”
Mr Horton said the small number of protesters represented a much larger number of supporters, which had increased following revelations the NZ Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which runs the base, illegally spied on Megaupload founder Dotcom.
Dotcom, a New Zealand resident, and three others were arrested on copyright, laundering and racketeering charges related to the file-sharing site Megaupload, in a police raid for the FBI a year ago.
He is currently free on bail, pending an extradition hearing in August.