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Persad-Bissessar: Not without me!

PORT OF SPAIN — Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has expressed concerns that handing over her electronic devices to the police investigators may jeopardise national security and has since directed that the investigation only take place in her presence.

In a letter to lead investigator, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mervyn Richardson, dated June 10, Persad-Bissessar said in her capacity as chairman of the National Security Council there was “sensitive” information on her computer systems and she was advised by her attorney, Israel Khan SC, that they and her in-house information technology expert should all be present during the police investigation.

“There is sensitive data on the said electronic devices concerning the safety and security of the State and other matters of a confidential nature,” the Prime Minister said.

Persad-Bissessar has since directed police investigators to only examine the electronic devices that she used in the month of September last year.

“I will readily adhere to the request made by the Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr Mervyn Richardson that I make available to the police investigators the electronic devices used by me to send and receive e-mails during the month of September 2012, but I am constrained to do so in the presence of my attorney-at-law and my information technology expert,” she said.

The prime minister said Khan was of the opinion that “this modus operandi of inspecting and examining the electronic devices will afford not only protection for the integrity of my electronic devices, but for the police investigation”.

“Such an exercise in Senior Counsel’s view will ensure that the inspection and examination of the said electronic devices remain transparent and above board for all concerned,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She also attached a copy of a report by US-based computer forensic expert, Jon Berryhill, which dissected the e-mail thread read by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in Parliament last month and pronounced the e-mail addresses “fraudulent” and “poorly constructed”.

Richardson, in a telephone interview yesterday, confirmed the letter and said he would not be distracted by “other investigations”.

“I am running this investigation and I cannot talk about what others are doing. I would not be so presumptuous to say that this report would add any weight to my investigation,” Richardson said.

When asked if the prime minister was allowed to be present during his investigation, Richardson said he was “guided by senior counsel’s advice”.

“My senior counsel advice,” he added.

Richardson refused to comment on the state of the investigation or who had been interviewed.

“I could tell you that the investigations are moving ahead at full steam. We have spoken to several people involved in the matter already.” (Express)

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