GOOGLE TO TELL ALL
By JULIEN NEAVES Tuesday, August 19 2014
INTEGRITY Commission chairman Ken Gordon is pleased with the progress of court action taken by the Commission following a ruling by a California judge granting its subpoena on Google as part of their investigation into the Section 34 “email” conspiracy.
“Things seem be to going forward and we all want to get the facts,” he said.
Gordon pointed out that he had recused himself from the particular matter and would not want to comment any further.
On August 14, the Honourable William H Orrick of the Northern District of California Court granted an application for subpoena which was requested by the Commission on August 11; Google is located in this district.
The subpoena seeks information for the email accounts “firstname.lastname@example.org,” “email@example.com,” and “firstname.lastname@example.org,” “which the Commission represents is relevant to a criminal investigation into possible governmental corruption.” Orrick ruled that because the application meets both the statutory requirements and discretionary factors it was granted.
He noted the Commission has not submitted a declaration establishing the facts that are allegedly the basis for the application and then outlined the facts of the case.
On May 20, 2013 Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in his motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister and Government in the Parliament revealed a document containing 31 emails purportedly exchanged between Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, then Local Government and current Works Minister Suruj Rambachan, then National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister and current National Security Minister Gary Griffith and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
The contents showed a criminal conspiracy to harm a journalist, spy on the Director of Public Prosecutions and have him removed from office, and the payment of money by unknown individuals in connection with the early proclamation of Section 34. In the ruling, Orrick noted Persad-Bissessar has not confirmed that any of the email addresses belongs to her, Ramlogan denies he has a Gmail account, but has consented to the search of his email account at email@example.com, which is controlled by Google. The Commission has requested the information from Google, but has not received anything yet.
On the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org Google has confirmed this address does not exist. The Commission believes the email address may have been a copying error and has asked Google to preserve information related to email@example.com, which Google has agreed to do if there is such an account.
Orrick also reported that Rambachan and Griffith have confirmed the Hotmail accounts belong to them and have authorised Microsoft to release information to the Commission.
He noted the statute authorises a court to compel testimony or production by (i) a “person” within the court’s district (ii) upon application by “any interested person” (iii) where the information is sought in connection with “a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal, including criminal investigations conducted before formal accusation” and these statutory requirements have been met.
He also stated the discretionary factors weigh in favour of granting the application noting that Google is not a participant in the foreign proceeding and thus “may be outside the foreign tribunal’s jurisdictional reach; hence, (its) evidence, available in the United States, may be unobtainable”.
He also noted, “the record is silent one way or the other about the reciprocity of the foreign government to judicial assistance here”; there is no evidence that the request is an attempt to circumvent foreign proof-gathering restrictions or any country’s policies; the request does not appear “unduly intrusive or burdensome” — seeks information concerning three email accounts and an affidavit to authenticate certain emails, and one of the account owners has consented to giving Google access to his account(s).
“The Commission shall serve Google with this Order and the subpoena, and shall file proof of service on the day service is effected. Google may move to modify or quash this subpoena within 14 days of service. Any return date for the subpoena shall be at least 14 days after the date Google is served so that Google may have a reasonable amount to file any motion; the return date shall be stayed if such a motion is filed. The Commission shall file any response within 14 days of any motion by Google,” Orrick ruled.
Ramlogan has reported that last year he initiated proceedings to subpoena Google on the matter following an instruction by the Prime Minister.
He noted Google only recently completed a thorough search of his email account as well as that of the honourable Prime Minister’s.
He said he initiated these proceedings as he was concerned the information could be irretrievably lost, leaving a cloud of conspiracy over them. Ramlogan noted he expected Google to release the findings “in the near future”.