Social Issues

Charges filed in case of far-right soldier

A soldier with ties to the far-right who was arrested in December at Linton Military Camp has been charged with an "unauthorised disclosure of information".

Charges have been filed against a soldier with ties to far-right extremists who was arrested on December 13. The arrest of the soldier, who has name suppression, was first reported by Newsroom.

A spokesperson for the New Zealand Defence Force told Newsroom that the soldier has been charged with two offences: an "unauthorised disclosure of information" that is "likely to prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand" and "accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose" to obtain "any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration".

The Defence Force said the individual was "under open arrest and remains under NZDF supervision".

"The charges against the accused have been referred to the Director of Military Prosecutions pursuant to the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971; the Director of Military Prosecutions will determine how the charges are to be dealt with."

Social media accounts removed

Two social media accounts, including a Reddit account, belonging to the accused were removed between December 18 and December 29. An NZDF spokesperson told Newsroom that the military "has not been involved in the deactivation of the social media accounts of the accused," but declined to say whether the soldier had been released or otherwise given access to the internet.

The arrest took place on the morning of December 13. At 11:16 AM, an NZDF-run Linton community page wrote: "I’m sure you are aware of the presence of the New Zealand Police today in the Linton Housing area and on Camp. I can confirm that a soldier has been arrested."

"I understand this may have caused concern for some people and I would like to assure you all there is no threat to the public or personnel."

Stuff reported at the time "that an antique explosive dating back to World War I had been found," during the arrest and that the accused was questioned by Police after the Christchurch terror attack, while they were in the military.

Links to far-right "monastic order"

On December 14, a far-right bodybuilding group called Wargus Christi posted in its Telegram channel that "one of our boys has been arrested for reasons still unknown. They have him in custody at the moment".

A user believed to be Wargus Christi's leader, Daniel Waring, later added that the person was in "military prison".

Wargus Christi was started by neo-Nazi Waring in September. In 2010, Waring was convicted of vandalising a church in Feilding and told police that he was a member of Blood and Honour, a neo-Nazi skinhead group that is banned in Spain, Germany and Russia and considered a terrorist organisation by Canada. Waring later denied that he was a member of the group.

Wargus Christi claims it is a "martial-monastic Christian brotherhood" and mixes Crusades-inspired Christian extremist imagery with modern far-right memes.

The group's Facebook page regularly engaged in homophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism and Islamophobia, such as an October 15 post in which it declared, "like Islam, Judaism is a diametrical enemy of Christ". The page was removed after Newsroom reported the arrest in December.

A post shared on the group's public-facing Telegram channel states that Jews "killed the son of God and [are] the child of Satan". In a private Telegram chat, a member wrote, "Satan simply works through the jews (and women+gays)".

Waring and Wargus Christi did not respond to requests for comment.

The accused soldier had "liked" Wargus Christi's Facebook page and claimed they were a member of the now-defunct far-right Dominion Movement in a Reddit post five days after the Christchurch terror attack.

Community group concerned

In a statement, the Foundation Against Islamophobia and Racism (FAIR) expressed concerns "that a far right extremist with a white supremacist ideology is a serving member of the NZDF with access to a range of firearms".

FAIR spokesperson Azad Khan said he was, "worried that this discovery may only be the tip of the iceberg. We don't know if there are others within the military, police and other agencies who hold similar views or are also members of this group. This white supremacist ideology is deeply entrenched into our colonial structure."

"The Muslim Community cannot be assured any safety in New Zealand in an environment where such people are empowered by the state to use violence. We want to know what the NZ government is going to do about fascists and neo-nazis in the military and other public service roles."

"We want this particular case, and the issue more generally, to be treated with the utmost gravity by the NZ government. It isn’t just an issue for the military either but for all government agencies."

Credible information is crucial in a crisis.

The pandemic is pushing us into an unknown and uncertain future. As the crisis unfolds the need for accurate, balanced and thorough reporting will be vital. Newsroom’s team of journalists is working hard to bring you the facts but, now more than ever, we need your support.

Reader donations are critical to what we do. If you can help us, please click the button to ensure we can continue to provide quality independent journalism you can trust.

Comments

Newsroom does not allow comments directly on this website. We invite all readers who wish to discuss a story or leave a comment to visit us on Twitter or Facebook. We also welcome your news tips and feedback via email: contact@newsroom.co.nz. Thank you.

With thanks to our partners