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Wednesday 13 November 2019
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AG: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower to name TT culprits

Ask Kamla, Rodney Charles, Gregory Bissessar

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi speaks at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi speaks at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing.

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi said Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower in the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal which featured in a recent Netflix documentary The Great Hack, has agreed to provide evidence the company’s involvement in Trinidad under the People’s Partnership administration.

Al-Rawi was speaking yesterday at the post-Cabinet media conference at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain.

He was asked about the reference to Percy Villafana and the “Do So” campaign in 2010 and whether Cambridge Analytica had been involved in this country since that time.

Al-Rawi said local attorneys have been in contact with Wylie, a Canadian data consultant, on several occasions and have been in active discussions.

He said Wylie has brought evidence before the US Senate committee and the UK House of Commons and was received under the privileges of those committees with criminal and civil liability avoided.

He said TT has a parliamentary committee sitting on Cambridge Analytica and chaired by Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General Fitzgerald Hinds.

“We have had discussions via appropriate channels to bring home the evidence on Cambridge Analytica. This is no small measure. It is something that has to be done very carefully.

Mr Wylie’s attorneys in writing to ours have indicated his willingness to assist TT in identifying, in open form, the culprits behind Cambridge Analytica who are culprits who sat in the last government.”

Al-Rawi said Wylie’s evidence featured in the award of a US $5 billion claim against Facebook.

The Netflix documentary includes reference to the 2010 general elections and reported attempts by Cambridge Analytica to influence voters along racial lines.

Al-Rawi said the Office of the Attorney General, for the last year-and-a-half, been engaged with Wylie’s attorneys.

“And the only people in this country who swear this didn’t happen live in the UNC.”

He said the dynamics of Wylie giving evidence is being worked out.

“Obviously this is not just small stakes. This is very large stakes with international repercussions in multiple jurisdictions in the US, in the UK.”

Al-Rawi said he personally attended the National Crime Agency in the UK with the FBI, US Department of Justice and various British departments and there was a full meeting on the matter.

Asked if Cambridge Analytica would have been involved since the “Do So” campaign in 2020 and helped the People’s Partnership into government Al-Rawi replied, “What you want to do now...is put it to (Opposition Leader) Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Put it to the original (Naparima MP) Rodney Charles himself.

“Put it to the Project ICONs team. If I’m not mistaken (National Security Minister Stuart) Young also mentioned the participation of (Persad-Bissessar’s husband) Gregory Bissessar in that matter.

“That is a matter of public record, members of the media. This is not small news.

“This is big news. And again we feature in the middle of this, in the genesis of the equation, under the hand of those who were last in government.”

Contacted by Newsday for comment, Charles distanced himself from any involvement with Cambridge Analytica.

“I know nothing about that. The AG is looking for a distraction given the fact the public is aware that he is one of the wealthiest politicians, and the fact that crime is continuing unabated.” Charles said if Al-Rawi has any evidence, let him bring it.

“Don’t use me as a distraction. Perform your job as AG. Bring laws that make sense and could have a measurable impact on reducing crime.”

Earlier, Charles in a statement chided Government’s call out of MPs next Wednesday from recess to debate the Bail (Amendment) Bill. Saying the Prime Minister in 2012 had said new laws are a waste of time when existing laws are not enforced, Charles asked if the call-out is simply to give the impression the Government is serious about crime.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN DOUGLAS

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