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Five Eyes intelligence network meeting hosted in Queenstown

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A US jet waits on the tarmac of scenic Queenstown Airport. Photo / NZME

Top American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials have touched down in Queenstown for a meeting of the global Five Eyes intelligence network.

A small US Air Force jet arrived and unloaded a fresh team of top officials at Queenstown Airport today, before they promptly jumped into cars and departed in a motorcade.

It’s understood that FBI operatives have been on the ground in the scenic South Island mountain town for several days ahead of the Five Eyes meet.

US FBI operatives disembark from a jet and jump straight into a waiting motorcade of SUVs ahead of a Five Eye intelligence meet. Photo / NZME
US FBI operatives disembark from a jet and jump straight into a waiting motorcade of SUVs ahead of a Five Eye intelligence meet. Photo / NZME

Representatives of Five Eyes – made up of intelligences agencies from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada and Britain – have also been quietly jetting into the alpine resort town over the last few days.

Plain-clothed Diplomatic Protection Service (DPS) officers and undercover armed police were seen in various unmarked vehicles at the luxurious five-star Millbrook Resort near Arrowtown today.

After enquiries from the Herald earlier this week, Andrew Little, Minister Responsible for the NZSIS and GCSB, confirmed the gathering.

“As the public would expect, New Zealand’s national security and intelligence officials meet with their Five Eyes counterparts as part of their regular engagement. There are some engagements happening at official level in New Zealand at the moment,” Little said.

Millbrook Resort outside of Queenstown is teeming with security officers. Photo / NZME
Millbrook Resort outside of Queenstown is teeming with security officers. Photo / NZME

“It is not in New Zealand’s national security interests, or the security interests of our partners, to provide any further details at the moment.”

The popular resort was teeming with golfers earlier in the week, mostly oblivious to the high levels of security around them.

Today’s arrivals included plain clothes officials wheeling suitcases who walked down the staircase of their jet straight into a convoy of SUVs.

Top FBI officials have jetted into Queenstown. Photo / NZME
Top FBI officials have jetted into Queenstown. Photo / NZME

Plain-clothed secret service agents in sunglasses could be seen providing security and liaising with local police.

A US Department of Justice jet was also parked on Queenstown Airport’s tarmac.

The Herald understands that police officers from various districts across the South Island are helping provide security for the duration of the conference.

However, a police spokeswoman earlier said: “As a matter of course, NZ Police does not comment on security or operational matters.”

Millbrook Resort outside of Queenstown is the setting for a Five Eyes intelligence meet. Photo / NZME
Millbrook Resort outside of Queenstown is the setting for a Five Eyes intelligence meet. Photo / NZME

A spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Wellington said: “We have had a steady stream of US Government officials visit Aotearoa since the borders opened in May as part of the normal course of business in our strong partnership with New Zealand. For more details, we would refer you to the New Zealand Government as the hosts.”

It’s not the first time that the Five Eyes group has met in Queenstown.

In 2017, then FBI director James Comey was spotted emerging from a Gulfstream G550 jet, which had flown directly from Hawaii to Queenstown.

FBI director James Comey disembarks from a Gulfstream jet after touching down on the tarmac at Queenstown Airport in April 2017. Photo / Brett Phibbs
FBI director James Comey disembarks from a Gulfstream jet after touching down on the tarmac at Queenstown Airport in April 2017. Photo / Brett Phibbs

CIA director Mike Pompeo also arrived by a CIA-registered Gulfstream GIV, which had previously been spotted at Wellington Airport.

Amid heavy security, the Americans were taken via police escort to Millbrook where the meeting was believed to have taken place.



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