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Monday 19 August 2019
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PM: No E-mailgate exoneration for UNC

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley with National Security Minister Stuart Young at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's, on Thursday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley with National Security Minister Stuart Young at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's, on Thursday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

THE PRIME Minister said there was no exoneration nor vindication for the UNC with the end of the E-mailgate investigation as there was evidence found and the existence of the e-mails could neither be confirmed nor denied.

He was speaking Thursday at the post-Cabinet media conference at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain on the announcement by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith that the investigation had ended and calls by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and other opposition members for Dr Rowley to resign and apologise over the "political hoax."

In then 2013 Opposition Leader Rowley presented a series of 31 purported e-mails in Parliament linking senior cabinet ministers, including then prime minister Persad-Bissessar, to a conspiracy over the Section 34 legislation and an alleged plot to kill a journalist.

In response he read from the July 5 letter of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to Deputy Commissioner of Police Harold Phillip which included that the content of the e-mails matched prevailing circumstances in TT which was sufficient for probable cause, and what was presented was sufficient to get a warrant from the internet service providers.

"There are some that will tell you it should have been dismissed out of hand from day one. But the DPP is saying the information and the content met the standard required to get a warrant not only in this country but outside it."

He pointed out there were warrants for internet service providers and Google and Microsoft were asked to certify what was produced before them. He said the US Justice Department reported that the FBI produced all data for the specified period but any data which was or may have been deleted by the account holders prior to the issuance of a preservation letter "would not be producible in any form and therefore not included in the return."

He added: "Simply meaning it is too late now to try to find out anything about these e-mails because you waited too long."

He said the US Justice Department also reported that TT issued a preservation request on June 20, 2013.

He read: "It is possible or likely that the data that you seek for the period in 2012 may no longer exist due to the account holders possible deletion of the data prior to the preservation order."

Rowley said the DPP explained since the request was made nine months after September 2012 any e-mail deleted in that period by the account holder would not be available. He also said the DPP spoke of the need to gather sufficient evidence for a charge.

"This wasn't a wild goose chase. This wasn't a Mickey Mouse thing. But you had to determine that the sufficient basis for a charge or charges."

He pointed out the DPP's letter stated that the authenticity of the 31 e-mails can neither be confirmed nor denied.

"That is not what the UNC is saying. The UNC is saying they have been vindicated. They have been exonerated. Well we are saying once the DPP is saying that it cannot be confirmed or denied there is no vindication in that."

He said the DPP said there was no evidence for a charge but did not say there was no evidence at all.

Rowley said he was a man of reasonable caution and that was why he waited six months after passing on the information to then President George Maxwell Richards to pass on to the Integrity Commission. He said only after the Integrity Commission said there was no investigation taking place he raised the issue in Parliament.

"I don't know I could have done anything else. I let the system work."

He said if he was malicious he could have immediately leaked the information to the media or spoke about it on a political platform. He added that the Integrity Commission was the best body for the investigation as there was confidentiality and it would prevent people from being "scandalised." He said he was only disappointed the investigation was not handled with more despatch.

He said that he was satisfied proper action was taken and a detailed investigation was done.

Rowley also dismissed claims that the E-mailgate issue was what allowed the PNM to get into government as attorney Israel Khan had claimed.

"It is because the UNC ran a very corrupt, kleptocratic government for five years and when the election came around the country had enough of the corruption that was rife in this country known by name, rank and serial number."

He said Persad-Bissessar was protesting too much and her claims that the PNM would be bringing trumped up charges with two upcoming elections was an attempt to have anyone charged for criminal conduct seen as politics by the public.

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