June 30, 2022 9:14 AM VOA News
New Zealand has designated the U.S. right wing groups the Proud Boys and The Base as terrorist organizations, making it illegal for New Zealand residents to fund or support either organization.
New Zealand Police Minister Chris Hipkins formally announced the designation at a news conference Thursday in Wellington as the government published a 29-page explanation.
Hipkins said the group’s involvement in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, amounted to an act of terrorism. He said the “violent protests attempting to overthrow the [U.S.] government,” clearly provide enough evidence of the threat the group poses.
The statement said that while several militia groups were involved in the January 6 insurrection, it was the Proud Boys that incited crowds, coordinated attacks on law enforcement officers and led other rioters to where they could break into the building.
Hipkins said, “These are white supremacist terrorist groups, and we don’t believe, and I don’t think New Zealanders believe that any New Zealander should be enabling and supporting them.”
Canada has designated both the Proud Boys and The Base terrorist groups, while Britain and Australia have labeled The Base an extremist organization.
A top New Zealand police official approved the designation on June 20, but the declaration wasn’t published by the government until Monday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office said New Zealand actively reviews and regularly updates its terrorist blacklist, which also includes groups such as Islamic State and the Africa-based al-Shabab.
It isn’t clear whether either far right group has a significant presence in New Zealand, but authorities said The Base had attempted to expand into neighboring Australia.
The Washington Post reports former New Zealand Attorney General Christopher Finlayson said in an email response that officials were following “standard process” and that many groups on Wellington’s terrorism list were not active in the country.
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press.