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Peace protesters deflate New Zealand spy globe

Peace activists attacked and deflated a large inflatable globe housing a satellite dish at a top secret New Zealand spy base on Wednesday in protest at United States military actions.
/ Source: Reuters

Peace activists attacked and deflated a large inflatable globe housing a satellite dish at a New Zealand spy base on Wednesday to protest United States military actions.

The group, calling itself ANZAC Ploughshares, said it cut through fences and razor wire and avoided electronic sensors to slash one of two 98-foot-high white globes with a sickle at the Waihopai base near Blenheim at the top of the South Island.

The base is described as a satellite communications monitoring facility, but peace campaigners have said it is part of a global signals interception network called Echelon.

"The Echelon spy network including Waihopai, is an important part of the U.S. government's global spy network and we have come in the name of the Prince of Peace to close it down," said Ploughshares in a statement.

It said the attackers built a shrine and prayed "to remember the people killed by United States military activity."

Three men, one of whom was a Dominican priest, were arrested at the site.

Prime Minister Helen Clark, who is also in charge of the security services, condemned the attack.

"It's a senseless act of vandalism, but it will now be dealt with by police," a spokeswoman said.

Ploughshares said Clark and the New Zealand government were privately supporting the war in Iraq while publicly condemning it.