Telecoms companies respond to spy claims
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday November 17, 2010 – Digicel has distanced itself from any illegal tapping of customers phones by the State Intelligence Agency (SIA), although it acknowledged the use of its facilities, while the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) has indicated it will cooperate with investigations into the spying operations.
That was the essence of statements issued by both companies following comments by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that the two had been “commanded” to help the SIA monitor the landline and cell phone calls as well as text messages and emails of scores of public officials and private citizens.
For its part, Digicel sought to reassure customers that it never monitored their accounts, neither was it aware of any details emerging from the surveillance of such by the SIA.
“In addition, Digicel does not have the capacity to carry out these actions. Further, the equipment used for national surveillance was purchased and is therefore owned by the Ministry of National Security. Digicel has had no control or insights into who has been monitored,” it said.
“Digicel was also assured that the equipment would be used solely for investigating issues of national security and our compliance was therefore in keeping with our licence to operate."
Meantime, TSTT has neither denied nor confirmed that it was roped into helping the SIA monitor calls.
"Following recent disclosures on the issue of wire-tapping and the decision of the Government to engage the office of the DPP to consider further enquiries, TSTT wishes to decline from making any public comment on the matter at this time,” it said.
However, it added that “the public can be assured…that the company will fully co-operate with the relevant authorities on any investigations into the matter."
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar revealed last week that the SIA had been spying on parliamentarians from all parties, including her; media persons; members of the judiciary; trade unionists; and other private citizens, for about five years.
She has ordered a full probe into the agency’s operations that will focus on gathering evidence of any misuse of public funds for illegal activities and misconduct in public office.
A report on the matter will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for him to make a decision on whether criminal charges should be laid.
Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. ( )