TTPS denies spying on citizens

PORT OF SPAIN – The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) on Sunday denied having acquired an interception tool known as Pegasus Spyware Solution, (Pegasus), to illegally intercept telecommunications.

Acting Commissioner of Police, McDonald Jacob, told a news conference that the law enforcement agency is not engaged in any illegal spying on citizens.

“We want to say in no uncertain terms that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service would have any sort of spy software in its possession,” said Jacob, who was flanked by National Security Minister, Fitzgerald Hinds.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told Parliament that he rejected “false narratives that, the state is using Pegasus that the TTPS is conducting interception of communications outside of the suite provided and controlled by the Strategic Services Agency (SSA), under the laws of Trinidad and Tobago”.

Rowley also denied allegations made by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar that that there were individuals being targeted by law enforcement for intercept who are not under suspicion of being involved in serious criminal activity.

He told legislators that the ill effects of these false narratives about intercept should not be underestimated and are very irresponsible as they “undermine the fight against crime and the trust that we should repose in those charged with the responsibility of the state’s legal intercept resources”.

Jacob told reporters that the TTPS “never had in its possession any spy software such as Pegasus”.

He said he knew “as a fact’ that a former police commissioner, whom he did not name, “had in fact purchased software” that did not “reach to the level of the Pegasus.

“That software was in two parts. One for a period of time, a certain aspect of it was in the possession of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the other half was in possession of the SSA. Without both merging and coming together nothing could happen”.

Jacob said that even though that particular software, which he did not identify, was available, “a lot of training has to take place in order for it to have been utilised”.

Earlier this month, Persad Bissessar, speaking at a Monday night forum of her main opposition United National Congress (UNC), told supporters that she had been provided with the information by a whistle blower and that the “spying “  is being done with the help of specially selected police officers, aligned to the government, to help Prime Minister Rowley  “cling to power”.

Just as Rowley did last Friday, National Security Minister Hinds dismissed the allegation, telling reporters that he felt “affronted and even embarrassed” by the statement made by the Opposition Leader, whom he recalled in 2010 had made a similar accusation when she headed the government. (CMC)



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