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Authorities have power to monitor Kiwis

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Latest Political News | Tuesday February 11 2014 7:43

Authorities have power to monitor Kiwis

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The Prime Minister's making it clear authorities have the power to monitor New Zealanders who've sought to fight in the Syrian conflict.

He's confirmed a small number of New Zealanders are fighting, or have fought, with anti-Assad forces.

John Key adds a number of people who sought to go there had their passports stopped before they could leave the country - and are now being watched.

"Well we can monitor their activities if we believe, under our national security legislation and intelligence legislation that they pose a threat to New Zealand.

"So we have powers through SIS and GCSB to monitor."

Meanwhile, the opposition wants more facts.

Labour MP David Shearer says Mr Key needs to say more.

He says it's a typical ploy - throw out a little bit of meat but give little context as to what the reasons are and what the risk is to New Zealand.

New Zealand nationals have been confirmed to be fighting in the Syrian civil war - and it's likely other westerners are too.

Professor Bill Harris from Otago University told Rachel Smalley many groups in the civil war have attracted fighters from around the world.

"We've had information like this from a number of Western countries that a few of the citizens or in some cases more than a few have been involved in various groups so we would throw up a presumably small number of people."

The number of Australian passports that have been cancelled due to security concerns has almost trebled since 2011 - rising to 18 last year, compared to the previous annual rate of seven.

The figures come as a ninth Australian, named as Ahmad Moussalli, has been killed in Syria.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not have a law specifically prohibiting its citizens from joining hostility in other countries.

Photo: Getty Images

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