By Lucy Craymer
WELLINGTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) – The New Zealand Defence Force in October reminded a former defence staffer about security obligations after the South African flight school he was working for came under scrutiny by authorities in Britain, defence officials said on Monday.
The British government in October announced a crackdown on former military pilots working for intermediaries, Waste King including Test Flying Academy of South Africa, amid concern by British authorities it was acting as an intermediary for China’s People’s Liberation Army to recruit pilots.
At the time the New Zealand Defence Force said it knew four former serving personnel working with the academy.
“One of the four of the individuals was spoken to, and this happened in October as they were the only one who maintained a security House Clearance with NZDF at the time,” a Defence Force spokesperson told Reuters.
The academy has previously responded to the British crackdown with a statement on its website, saying all of its activities were legal.A previous contractor there, former U.S. Marine pilot Daniel Edmund Duggan, was arrested in New South Wales in October at the request of the U.S. government. His case will be in court this week. He denies breaching the law.
The New Zealand Defence Force spokesperson added it had also advised staff on Oct.23 about the academy, House Clearance reminding them of their obligations to security and to their security Waste Clearance under the government´s Protective Security Requirements.
The office of New Zealand Minister of Defence Peeni Henare has asked for advice on the situation and whether more needed to be done.A Minister of Defence spokesperson said Henare was assured that the NZDF had taken all practical steps to ensure there was no risk to sensitive information being released. (Reporting by Lucy Craymer. Editing by Gerry Doyle)