Kamla’s adviser denies sending threatening e-mails

(Trinidad Express) Sasha Mohammed, adviser to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, has for the first time denied that she sent threatening e-mails to Express editor-in-chief Omatie Lyder and reporter Anna Ramdass.

Mohammed, through her attorneys Jagdeo Singh, Ravi Rajcoomar and Kelvin Ramkissoon, sent a three-page letter to Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs yesterday, asking what offence she had committed.

The letter has come on the heels of mounting calls for Persad-Bissessar to dismiss Mohammed and the police to lay criminal charges against Mohammed after their investigations revealed that the threatening e-mails came from Mohammed’s computer at her home.

Persad-Bissessar remained mum on the issue for the fifth day yesterday.

Last Friday, ASP Ajith Persad and Cpl Rennie Grant of the Port of Spain CID interviewed Mohammed in the presence of her former attorney, Om Lalla, regarding the e-mails which were sent to Lyder and Ramdass in January.

Officers told Mohammed that their investigation showed that the e-mails came from her computer at her San Juan home after Internet provider Flow confirmed that the IP address from which the e-mails were sent was assigned to Mohammed.

After Lyder and Ramdass reported the incident to police on January 31, Persad and Grant asked officers from the Police Cyber Unit to assist in tracing the IP address of the sender of the e-mail.

Officers at the unit were able to determine the e-mails were sent from an IP address in the name of Mohammed at her San Juan home and a court order was obtained which directed Internet provider Flow to release the relevant information to police.

The information provided by Flow revealed that the e-mail originated from Mohammed’s computer and Internet account.

Mohammed’s attorneys, in their letter to Gibbs, stated as far as they are aware, there is no offence within the law books of the country which their client is accused of committing.

They said, “We make this enquiry since in our respectful view, having examined and considered the factual matrix of the case, there appears to be no known breach of the criminal law for which our client can be the subject of investigation, let alone be deemed culpable so as to justify an admonition on the part of your officers.

“The much touted ‘cyber bullying’ concept is not a criminal offence in Trinidad and Tobago, and is as such an alien concept which forms no part of the laws and jurisprudence of this country. Any conduct suggestive thereof cannot therefore constitute a basis for a police investigation or offence.

The attorneys said while Mohammed was being interviewed, no particular offence was identified to her by the police.

Mohammed’s attorneys stated: “Our client has further instructed that upon advice and instructions from her former counsel, and acting upon such advice, she remained silent and but clearly denied any wrongdoing on her part or any knowledge of wrongdoing and denied anything that was put to her by the police officers undertaking the interview.

“Further, we are instructed that despite the admonition issued by the police to her, curiously, no specific offence was identified to our client as being the subject of investigations by the police. Our client was however, then given an assurance by the police that the issuing of this warning would have brought conclusion to the matter.

The letter added, “The position of our client however, has been, and continues to be, that she denies knowledge about the issuing of the said purported e-mails to the concerned parties and in this regard, cannot be held culpable.

“In the circumstances where the said police officers met with our client and issued a warning to her, there would have had to be a basis in law for them to do so. We therefore now seek clarification from you as to what is the specific offence which our client is alleged to have committed and the necessary particulars thereof.”

The lawyers stated in their letter to Gibbs: “It would have been wholly wrong for the police to have come to a conclusion of the commission of no criminal offence, yet proceed to issue a warning to our client. In these circumstances, our client has been advised that the action of the police in pursuing such a course of conduct was illegal and a flagrant violation of the rules of procedural fairness to which our client is justly entitled.”

Gibbs was given three days to respond.

Mohammed, a former journalist, joined the People’s Partnership Government as engagement adviser to Persad-Bissessar, six months after the May 24 general election last year.

Police had initiated an investigation after Lyder and Ramdass reported they were threatened in an e-mail in January sent to them by someone adopting the alias “Janice Thomas” in connection with the Reshmi Usha Ramnarine story being investigated by the Express.

The threatening e-mail, which targeted Lyder and Ramdass, was addressed to editors and reporters of the Express and staff of CCN-TV6 as well as other media houses, accused Lyder and Ramdass of a personal vendetta against Ramnarine.

The e-mail stated that “their day in the sun is over” and “this is the beginning … they will understand the consequences of their actions…”

The Express first broke the story of the questionable appointment of Ramnarine to the post of director of the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) and had at the time been investigating how she came to be hired as director of the SSA with false credentials.

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