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Greenpeace boss wants answers on spy claims

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Greenpeace executive director Kumi Naidoo wants to know if the South African government has been spying on him.

He told reporters at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on Thursday that he had written to Intelligence Minister David Mahlobo to get clarity on the matter.

He hoped Mahlobo would tell him this was not the case. He had not given the minister a deadline to respond.

“I will also be writing an open letter to the presidency… highlighting my concerns,” Naidoo said.

According to an Al Jazeera report, South Korea had asked South Africa for information on Naidoo and called him a potential threat, ahead of the G20 summit in Toronto, Canada, in 2010.

Naidoo said the Koreans probably did so as part of their efforts during the summit to promote their use of nuclear technology.

The environmental group has been active in opposing the use of nuclear technology in South Africa and internationally.

Naidoo said he was getting advice and help from the Legal Resources Centre on how to get answers from government.

He said he was not shocked, frustrated or angry to hear that he had been the subject of surveillance.

“I am very sad, hurt and disappointed,” he said, however.

“What hurts is that my government might have been engaging in surveillance on me and may have shared that, upon request, with South Korea.”

To have it confirmed that he had been spied on gave him a “chilling effect”, he said, adding that the money spent on this could have been used to better the lives of the people in the country.

This was not the first time that his organisation or other environmental organisations were faced with this.

“Last year, it came to light that Eskom was tapping our phones and eventually they apologised for that,” he said.

Asked said he believed the spy report was accurate.

“There’s enough I’ve seen to believe these are authentic. The minister [Mahlobo] would have dismissed it [the leaking of the report] but has instead condemned it,” said Naidoo.

Mahlobo announced on Wednesday that a task team would be formed to investigate the leaking of documents detailing the operations of the country’s State Security Agency.

“We need to know who is on that task team,” Naidoo said.

He told reporters he could only recall one incident that could have indicated he was being spied on.

In 2011, as he left for the climate talks in Durban from France, his luggage disappeared from the airport.

He claimed airport officials had said their system showed his bag had been brought in, but it could not be found. Naidoo said he lost many items of personal value, especially 25 original struggle T-shirts. The luggage was never found. SAPA

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