(Trinidad Express) Staff at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Port of Spain have expressed grave concern that their every move is being monitored and recorded on camera at the Office of the Attorney General.
The revelation comes in the wake of a security contract being awarded to a company owned by one of the United National Congress’s main party financiers and allegations of electronic monitoring devices being planted at the office to monitor the conversations of the DPP Roger Gaspard during the Section 34 debacle.
Concerned staffers told the Express that they only recently learned that cameras throughout Winsure building, on Richmond Street, can be accessed remotely at the ground floor of Cabildo Chambers, the head office of the Attorney General, on St Vincent Street, Port of Spain.
Reached for comment on the report, Gaspard would only say, “I have no comment at this stage.”
But in response to the concerns raised by staffers at the DPP’s Office, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, in a telephone interview last night, said, “At no point in time has anyone voiced or raised concern about these matters with me. So that it has never been an issue to warrant my involvement in any way. I therefore do not understand how what was never a concern in the past is now being raised as though it is a novelty.
“I believe this is being mischievously and maliciously raised to prop up and give credence to the incredible e-mail fiasco.”
The AG said were it not for the enquiries made by the Express he would not even have been aware of the security cameras at the DPP’s office are being monitored at his own office.
“This is news to me. I was not aware of this,” he said.
“I would not be surprised if it exists, indeed I hope that it does, because it would be foolish to have security cameras that are not capable of being accessed by persons who are supposed to be monitoring the area that these cameras cover,” Ramlogan said.
“I do not know where the monitoring takes place as I have never had the cause or desire to make such enquiries. It is common knowledge that regular home security cameras can be remotely accessed via the Internet from one’s laptop or cellphone with the relevant security password,” he added.
The AG said that the security arrangements at his Ministry were the responsibility of the Facilities Unit, and were in place before his assumption to office. He said that he has confined himself to “the management of legal matters that involve the State and the public’s interest”.
The unit responsible for monitoring and reviewing the data from the DPP’s Office is the Facilities Management Unit, an independent unit at the Ministry of the Attorney General managed by Kyle Thomas.
Thomas, who had been working at the Ministry of the AG since 2004, was appointed facilities manager on May 3, 2010.
Sources said that while Thomas is reportedly the only authorised person to access the room where the monitors are located he will have to comply if the Attorney General made a request for any data to be handed over.
Sources told the Express that Thomas had visited the DPP’s office several times during the period when the shift of a new security firm, Executive Bodyguards Services Ltd (EBSL), owned by Krishna Lalla’s Super Industrial Services, had taken over from Innovative Security Technologies Ltd, of Cipero Road, San Fernando since December 2012. Cameras at the DPP’s office were also changed in January 2013, staffers said.
Sources told the Express that the DPP’s south-based office has not yet changed over from Innovative to EBSL because of concerns raised by staff over the fact that the walls around the offices were not being built all the way up to the ceiling, and this caused grave security concerns because of the sensitive information which passes through the office.
Innovative Security remains on a month-to-month basis pending the completion of renovation works there.
Data gleaned from strategically placed hi-tech cameras, document every single person who enters and leaves the DPP’s Office on a daily basis and also monitors movement on the five floors of the building and its perimeter.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Thomas told the Express, “EBSL is not nor has ever been responsible for the CCTV equipment at the Ministry,” adding that the systems existed since the facilities opened years ago.
A release from the Ministry of the Attorney General yesterday also noted that EBSL was approved by the Central Tender’s Board and assumed duties on December 1, 2012.
“In so far as it is being implied or suggested that EBSL may have been responsible for the alleged breach in security at the Office of the DPP that lead to the alleged bugging of the DPP’s conference room, it should be noted that such an occurrence predated their assumption of duties.
According to the e-mails the alleged bugging occurred in November 2012 and EBSL assumed duties in December 2012. Innovative was in fact responsible for the provision of security arrangements at the Office of the DPP at that time,” the release added.
It was during the no-confidence motion by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley against the Prime Minister and the Government that a thread of 31 e-mails purporting to be sent from e-mail address of the Prime Minister, the Attorney General, the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor Gary Griffith and Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan mentioned the monitoring of the DPP’s office.
The authenticity of the e-mails is now the subject of a police investigation headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mervyn Richardson.