Joseph denies giving okay to spying
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – Former minister of national security Martin Joseph said yesterday that he never authorised the wire tapping of any citizen of Trinidad and Tobago but said he wished to categorically state that the director of the Strategic Intelligence Agency (SIA) did report to him.
Joseph said that as minister his responsibility, among others, was policy formulation and implementation and the coordination among the various Divisions of the Ministry.
“The same way that I could not and did not direct the Commissioner of Police on who to arrest, I could not direct the Director of the SIA on who to focus his/her intelligence gathering operations,” Joseph said in a written statement.
“Like most citizens I too was shocked by the revelations of the Prime Minister in the Parliament on Friday, 12 November, 2010. I am surprised that the alleged operations were taking place, and look forward to clarification about them.”
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar revealed that President George Maxwell Richards was among a list of prominent people, including politicians, trade unionists, journalists and even sports personalities whose phones had been illegally tapped by the SIA which was formed in 2005 by the then Patrick Manning administration.
In his statement Joseph said that as minister he was aware that various operations of the Ministry needed to be more effectively monitored and coordinated and it was for that reason that Cabinet approval was obtained for the team led by Retired Major General Ross to review and recommend the improvements to the security apparatus of the State.
“These recommendations were approved, and were in the process of being implemented when the change of Government occurred on May 24, 2010,” he said.
The former national security minister said that the SIA over its 16 years of operations had made valuable contributions not only to the security of the State, but to the region, and had partnered with similar international organizations and agencies in the fight against drugs and transnational crime.
“This could have been only achieved as a result of dedication, commitment and hard work of its employees over the years,” he added. (CMC)