John Key tight lipped on Israeli spy claim - what really happened?
The Prime Minister's refusing to be drawn into any detailed comment on whether there's been a security breach by Mossad agents in New Zealand.
The Security Intelligence Service has been reported as having suspicions about the activities of a group of Israelis during the quake aftermath.
Among the suspicious activities reported include the discovery of five passports on an Israeli earthquake victim, his comrades fleeing the country the same day of the event, and a confrontation between armed New Zealand police and an unaccredited Israeli search and rescue team.
John Key, who's in San Francisco, has confirmed the Israeli Prime Minister rang him four times on the day of the quake and also confirmed three Israelis who escaped from a van buried in the rubble left the country within 12 hours.
But Mr Key wouldn't be drawn into commenting about one of the Israelis who died in the quake having five passports or the possibility of Mossad agents working in New Zealand again, saying that's not in the public interest.
"If I thought it was in the national interest to discuss those matters, I would," he says. "In the case of the previous Government where there was misuse of New Zealand passports, that was deemed to be in the national interest."
When Mossad agents were caught in 2004, Helen Clark reacted angrily - eventually cutting off diplomatic ties with Israel that have only recently been restored.
Mr Key also says he's had no advice or reason to believe that the police intelligence systems have been intercepted or there's been any untoward behaviour in regards to the police systems.
Newstalk ZB sources have confirmed that the SAS was deployed to the red zone and issued live rounds in connection with a "possible threat".
That's thought to be the presence of an unaccredited Israeli rescue squad.
Southland Times Editor Fred Tulett, the journalist behind the story of Israeli spies, is unshakable in his conviction his facts are accurate.
He says the initial information given to him was checked with other sources, including an intelligence agency source.
Mr Tulett also put the allegations to Israeli Ambassador Shemi Tzur.
"He said he was angry and upset at the suggestions that these were Israeli spies or that any of them were Israeli spies, and that's not surprising of course," he told Newstalk ZB.
He says there were too many unusual things going on.
Meanwhile security expert Paul Buchanan believes the police and SIS have reason to be concerned about reports of possible Israeli spies in Christchurch during the February earthquake.
"One has to wonder what was going on," he told Newstalk ZB's Susan Wood. "To have known the fact that the survivors left the country immediately and there were high powered Israeli overtures to the New Zealand Government to bring in a search and rescue team, and as it turns out an unauthorised search and rescue team was sent here and actually detained by the police when they were in the red zone."
Paul Buchanan says given the young age of the suspects - in their early 20s - it's highly likely they were involved in identity theft
Acknowledgements: Juliette Sivertsen, Barry Soper and Newstalk ZB Staff