I found two interesting bits to this story in the New Zealand Herald. First, the definition of “traitor” as presented by Kit Bennetts, the man who performed surveillance that ultimately led to the arrest of Dr William Sutch:
“He was a loving husband. He was a great father. He was a great family man. His role in the social development of New Zealand was great. Many would say that would outweigh this silly little dabble with the Soviets, whereas I say he was involved in a full-on intelligence operation as an asset of the KGB. To me that outweighs the good he did.
“I honestly believe he never saw himself as a traitor. I don’t think he would have done anything to consciously harm New Zealand. The fact that he did is probably a product of his arrogance … and his belief that he perhaps knew better.”
And so he was charged with doing unconscious harm to New Zealand, although his intent was purely good? That sounds a bit odd to me.
Second, this story came up because a new book is being published by Bennetts that is causing some controversy:
[Former New Zealand defence analyst Jim Rolfe] said there would be some disquiet from the SIS that a retired officer had published a book, but he doubted if the service would do anything.
“They have been burned too often trying to stop secrets once they have been let out.”
Something tells me if the content was sensitive enough, they would actually stop the secret. But since this is a story about a man who was charged and acquitted thirty years ago, what secret could possibly be worth stopping?