FBI director James Comey arrives in Queenstown

Author
Newstalk ZB Staff, NZ Herald Staff ,
Publish Date
Sun, 23 Apr 2017, 2:49PM
FBI director James Comey has arrived in Queenstown for a top-secret spy conference. (Brett Phibbs)
FBI director James Comey has arrived in Queenstown for a top-secret spy conference. (Brett Phibbs)

FBI director James Comey arrives in Queenstown

Author
Newstalk ZB Staff, NZ Herald Staff ,
Publish Date
Sun, 23 Apr 2017, 2:49PM

FBI director James Comey has arrived in Queenstown for a top-secret spy conference.

Wearing sunglasses, a light blue shirt and chino pants, he arrived on an FBI chartered Gulfstream Aerospace.

Mr Comey was last in New Zealand in March 2016, when he met with Minister for the Government Communications and Security Bureau and Security Intelligence Service Chris Finlayson and Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

Before his arrival, a CIA jet touched down on the tarmac at Queenstown Airport.

And, just like a scene out of an action flick, two security personnel stood guard as a number of men and women in suits exited the plane before being quickly ushered along the tarmac into waiting vehicles.

A quick Google search of the registration number on the white, Gulfstream Aerospace's tail revealed United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) owns the jet.

The Gulfstream has joined a second private jet at the airport, acting as added confirmation that the "Government conference" set to play out at luxury Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown in the coming week, is a meeting of spying network Five Eyes - the global alliance of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

A fleet of undercover police cars and a security vehicle drove onto the tarmac ahead of the jet arriving.

CIA director Mike Pompeo is among members from 15 agencies believed to be attending the conference and may well have been among those onboard the plane, which jetted in via Wellington.

Police and security have been scattered across the grounds of Millbrook Resort this weekend, keeping a close eye on the comings and goings.

Millbrook Resort manager Ross McLean confirmed on Saturday that a "Government conference" was taking place at the venue but denied to provide any specific details.

"Millbrook is who we are because we do not disclose any information about any guests whether VIPs or just any couple," McLean said.

McLean said important visitors typically enjoyed the fact that the resort was quite a "relaxed area", unlike the "hustle and bustle of Queenstown".

The Herald believes the conference will take place for a week starting on Monday.

A number of police officers roamed the resort grounds on Saturday morning, while security stood at a temporarily blocked internal road that runs down the side of the reception area.

Marked and undercover police cars were spotted at various locations around the property.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Internal Affairs told the Weekend Herald that they were not involved in the visit, which was just as much of a mystery to them as the public.

The spokeswoman said if the highly secretive visit involved a head of state or ex-head of state, the department would typically be involved with organising vehicles and security with police.

Prime Minister Bill English's office this week confirmed there would be not one, but a number of VIP visitors.

A group of about 18 police officers and security guards dresses in casual attire were spotted outside the reception area at Millbrook yesterday afternoon and locals reported seeing snipers and bodyguards in Arrowtown earlier in the week.

It is not known which government ministers are attending the Queenstown conference, however Minister for the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) and Security Intelligence Service (SIS) Chris Finlayson's is expected to make an appearance.