NGO Founder Reported Source of Spy Scandal

The New Zealander who intro­duced a dubious NGO called Global-PAC to Cambodia this year has returned to the media spotlight in his home country for re­portedly stirring up a spy contro­ver­sy involving the indigenous Maori tribes.

Jack Sanders is implicated in a probe into allegations published in New Zealand newspapers this month that the country’s Security Intel­li­gence Service was spying on Ma­o­ri networks—a charge that Prime Minister Helen Clark de­nied as she announced the investi­ga­tion last week.

Sanders was named in the New Zea­land Herald last week as a primary source of the spy allegations, initially published in the Sunday Star-Times newspaper. He told journalists that he is well-connected in the spy world.

Along with fellow New Zea­lander Ger­ald Thorns, Sanders made waves in Phnom Penh in May after opening Global-PAC, which declared its specialty as high-tech surveillance of suspected pedophiles.

The two had meetings with the In­terior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking chief, Un So­kunthea, and the ministry’s Thong Lim, and claimed that British Ambassador Stephen Brid­ges could vouch for their work.

But doubts soon arose over the group’s legitimacy and speculation ran wild over its true motives. Mike Bush, a New Zealand police attache in Bangkok, said Monday he is still seeking contact with San­ders regarding Global-PAC “to see if they are bona fide.”

Thong Lim, Bridges and the Interior Min­is­try have all said recently that their ties to Sanders and Thorns were mostly one-sided and superficial.

Global-PAC has not reported any activity here since May, though NGO status has provided Thorns with a platform of sorts. In July, Thorns spoke at a conference in Tokyo on the smuggling of North Korean refugees, and cited his experience as executive director of Global-PAC.

Asked for comment Mon­day on the Herald articles on the Maori scandal, Sanders referred a re­porter to a Web site posting in which his partner called Bush’s comments and the Herald ar­ticles part of a “smear campaign.”

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