You are here
Cox: Govt, Opposition phones being tapped
Opposition MP Donna Cox says she has been told the cellphones of some members of the Government are being tapped. She made the disclosure to the T&T Guardian yesterday while responding to questions about her claim in Parliament on Wednesday that she was reliably informed her phone was tapped. She was speaking on the Defence (Amendment) Bill at the time.
She added: “I was informed the phones of members on our side (Opposition) and some on the other side (Government) are being tapped. It was what I heard.” Asked who she suspected, she said: “I can’t give that information.” The Intercept Unit first operated under the Special Anti-crime Unit (SAUTT), a controversial national security agency formed under the last People’s National Movement administration.
Cox served as junior minister in the National Security Ministry in the PNM administration. In November 2010, months after the new government was sworn in, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced in Parliament her phone and those of President George Maxwell Richards, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and some of her MPs, Government ministers and media personnel were being tapped.
It was implied the phone-tapping was done by a security agency under the former administration.
Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning, in reply, said his government never authorised the agency to intercept the communications of law-abiding citizens.
The T&T Guardian asked Cox if she knew about phone-tapping by the Intercept Unit when she was in the National Security Ministry.
She said: “SAUTT was never under me. I would not have been aware at the time about information concerning SAUTT. I was aware that SAUTT was used to deal with criminal activity not to tap people’s phones.
Cox said there were clear procedures in the Interception of Communications Act if there was a need to tap people’s phones.
“We agreed to this bill and that phone-tapping (illegally) should not be taking place,” Cox said.
Asked why she felt their phones were being tapped, she said: “The Government will have to say why but I expect it will be denied.”
Cox said it was not a comfortable thing having one’s phone tapped. She said after she made the disclosure in Parliament on Wednesday she heard nothing strange on her phone yesterday.
“Prior to that, I could hear myself talking and certain other noises,” she said.
Gary Griffith, national security adviser to the Prime Minister, said Cox was making a very serious accusation.
He said: “I have no knowledge about anything like that taking place. Because of new legislation it’s illegal for any such thing to take place without the relevant authorisation by the Strategic Services Agency (SSA).”
Asked what other security agency intercepted communications, Griffith said: “Only the SSA. If any other unit is doing it, it would be illegal.”
He added: “There could very well be other units outside of the Government doing it. They can easily acquire such equipment. It’s available on the black market.”
Asked what the unit intercepted, he said: “That is a national security issue.”
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.