Ex-minister ‘did not authorize wiretapping’

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago: Former National Security Minister Martin Joseph has announced that he never authorized the wiretapping of Trinidad and Tobago citizens.

Joseph said he was just as shocked as most citizens were when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar revealed last week that the State Intelligence Agency (SIA) had been tapping the landlines and cell phones of parliamentarians, journalists, trade unionists and other private citizens, and intercepting their text messages and emails.

“As minister my 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,” he said in a statement last weekend.

“I am surprised that the alleged operations were taking place and look forward to clarification about them.”

Although not condoning any illegal activity, Joseph said the SIA, in its 16 years of operation had made valuable contributions, not only to the security of the twin-island republic, but also to the region.

He said the agency 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,” said Joseph.

However, Joseph did acknowledge that he was aware that various operations of the ministry needed to be more effectively monitored and coordinated while he was in office.

“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,” said Joseph.

He noted that those recommendations had been approved and were in the process of being implemented when the People’s Partnership government was elected into office in May.


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