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Published on May 7, 2011
POST PRODUCTION COMPLETE - BEING PREPARED FOR DISTRIBUTION - Behind The Shroud, is a documentary film of 90 minutes. It examines themes of intelligence and security, espionage and counter-terrorism. The documentary's methodology is investigative; it is largely presented as an example of participatory mode; and is independent and gritty in style. This documentary is directed and produced by Selwyn Manning - a New Zealand-based journalist and author.
Behind The Shroud examines the Ahmed Zaoui case. It analyses why in 2007, after years of the New Zealand Government stating him to be a risk to the nation's security, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, Justice Paul Neazor, found in Zaoui's favour and set him free. It unearths information that has been cloaked in secrecy. Behind The Shroud takes the viewer on a journey into that shadowy world of spies and espionage, and resolves the mystery of the Zaoui case through interviews with key players in the great game, including two secret witnesses who each testified at the Inspector General's hearings into the Zaoui case in Auckland in 2007.
The two secret witnesses are: Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Samraoui, the Algeria regime's former head of intelligence and counter-espionage based in north Europe; and Professor George Joffe, an academic from Oxford and Cambridge universities - a renowned expert on north Africa affairs. Both men now speak publicly for the first time about how and why Zaoui was framed by the Algeria regime.
Mohamed Samraoui is a protagonist of sorts and is presented as the officer tasked by his superiors to create a cloak of disinformation around Zaoui. He outlines why as an officer of the DRS (Algeria's secret intelligence service) he disempowered Zaoui and other members of Algeria's opposition political parties so as to render them ineffective threats of the military regime.
Behind The Shroud also presents other experts who offer exclusive accounts, each giving a unique view on how the Zaoui case has become a precedence-setting case-study into whether it is proper for governments to rely on intelligence information in judicial process and practice.
These experts include: Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wilkie, a former Australia Defence intelligence officer and intelligence adviser to former prime minister John Howard; Dr Paul Buchanan, a former security analyst to United States intelligence/security agencies;Superintendent Gerry Cuneen, New Zealand Police's former head of its criminal intelligence unit; Matt Robson, former associate minister of foreign affairs; and others.
Their testimony confronts unanswered questions that have lingered since late 2007 and explains why the New Zealand Government suddenly set Zaoui free, inviting Zaoui and his family to enjoy their liberty as legitimate refugees in New Zealand.
The documentary concludes with a thought provoking critique of New Zealand's intelligence apparatus and paves the way for a debate into how New Zealand can move to ensure the Ahmed Zaoui case is not repeated.
Selwyn Manning's long awaited documentary about "intelligence, espionage and counter-terrorism", is now available on DVD and public screenings are being planned. The Pacific Media Centre plans a showing early next year. The 90min documentary film is investigative, participatory, independent and "gritty in style".