Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has alleged that Government is “illegally spying”—with certain police officers’ help—on members of the media, business community, judiciary, State boards, PNM MPs and senators, some PNMites’ spouses, trade unions and the Opposition.
Calling for answers at UNC Forum on Monday night, she queried why the Parliament wasn’t being convened, since, “We need answers on this illegal spying.”
Persad-Bissessar said she’d warned previously about Government acquiring the Israeli Pegasus software programme to hack into citizens’ WhatsApp communication and other communications.
“I can confirm that Government did, in fact, acquire this software and they’ve been illegally spying on citizens—various social media platforms, WhatsApps, e-mails etc,” she claimed.
“A whistle-blower has provided me with information on this widespread electronic spying. I also got the names of people who’ve been spied upon. We’ve been alerting people privately because of safety concerns.”
She alleged, “The list of people being spied on include members of the media, reporters and editors, members of the senior judiciary and magistrates, State agencies – spying on their own board appointees, trade unions, members of Government—yes, they’re spying on their own MPs and senators—and, of course, they must be spying on the Opposition.”
She added: “Also being illegally monitored are members of the business community, the chambers of commerce, lawyers associated with the PNM and UNC and people in other political parties. They’re also accessing the media, emails and text messages of these persons and storing it.”
Persad-Bissessar claimed they access WhatsApp by sending someone a message and when it’s clicked on, the software infects the phone.
“They can read your WhatsApp messages in real-time as you’re sending and receiving them. Therefore, I’m advising – always delete your WhatsApp messages,” she said.
She alleged, “This is being done with the assistance of TTPS officers.”
Persad-Bissessar further claimed certain police officers “closely affiliated with certain high members of Government” are assisting in this.
“Some of these officers were hand-picked and placed in those posts to do this illegal spying.”
Persad-Bissessar said when the UNC passed the Interception of Communication Act, only officers of certain ranks could intercept ciommunication, but in the current situation, a “police constable who is the friend of a minister has been put to monitor WhatsApp messages.”
Persad-Bissessar added: “They’re spying on the messages of their own PNM members; anyone they think will be a threat to Rowley’s leadership is also being spied upon.
“They’re also monitoring the phones of the spouses of certain PNM persons. Certain members of this Government are suffering from paranoia, they’re desperate to find anyone they believe are against them.
“Faris Al-Rawi became a victim of this illegal monitoring of WhatsApp messages and there are others who may become future victims of this illegal activity. Many tell us Rowley doesn’t have control of his MPs due to infighting in the PNM—now Government’s resorted to Gestapo tactics.”
She claimed T&T’s in a dictatorship where judicial officers, business people, trade unions and political parties, “not associated with criminal activity are being illegally spied on.”
Last week, Persad-Bissessar raised questions about PNM MP Foster Cummings and a company called Pical Services Company Limited and if that company was a tenant/occupier/owner of Caroni State land.
Last night, Persad-Bissessar produced video that she alleged showed trucks on the land with Pical’s logo. She asked Cummings if a black Range Rover seen on-site was his and what he was doing on the compound.
She said the Prime Minister asked for evidence and she was showing this.
She also asked if Cummings worked with the DSS sou-sou group during the 2020 election campaign to “induce” voters and if his life was threatened by those people he worked with after they lost money in DSS.
Persad-Bissessar also called for answers on allegations that the brother of a former minister had been collecting money to “sort out” documents to State land.