Prime Minister denies UNC claims of Government spying on citizens

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses the media after his return from Barbados at the VIP Lounge, Piarco International Airport on Thursday. Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

The Prime Minister has described as false statements by the Opposition Leader about government’s alleged illegal interception of citizens’ communications by using the Pegasus Spyware Solution interception tool.

He called on the Opposition Leader to provide the documentary evidence of these interceptions that she has said she has.

Speaking in Parliament on Friday, Dr Rowley said the State does not possess, nor has it ever possessed or used Pegaus spyware.

“Contrary to the current misinformation campaign on this issue, there is no truth whatsoever, in the allegation that the state, including, the police service (‘TTPS’) and/ or the Strategic Services Agency (SSA), or any other state agency for that matter, has any officer using Pegasus spyware.

“The SSA is the sole custodian of all known interception of communication software and hardware procured by the government or any other state agency, and it is this government’s policy that that all such technology should reside within the control of the SSA.”

He said the SSA uses its intercept technology to do legal interception, within the parameters of the Interception of Communication Act, and amendments in the Interception of Communications (Amendment) Act, 2020.

“The act makes it clear that there are only three persons who can authorise interception of communications, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Commissioner of Police and the Director of the SSA. As part of the process and legal procedure for approved intercept of communications, there must be a documented justification for the targeting of any device from which communication is intercepted. This documentation must justify the use of the State’s tools to intercept and creates a record of all intercepts conducted.”

Rowley said the interception is digital and therefore it was easy to verify or disprove allegations of misuse and to determine who made the intercept.

He called on Kamla Persad-Bissessar to bring her evidence to the House of Representatives.

“The Opposition Leader or her subordinates in this House must make available to the citizenry the basis on which these unsettling allegations are being published locally and internationally, to the detriment of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. The Opposition Leader persists with her claims, advertising that she has documentary evidence of such wrongdoing by this government. In this situation and under these circumstances the Opposition Leader is duty-bound to bring it here for treatment by this honourable House.”