As the nation watched the broadcast of the opening of the motion live on television, and in front of a packed public gallery which included primary school children, Rowley read from documents which he said were email exchanges sent between officials in relation to the Section 34 affair. At times, however, Rowley read out jarring obscene language contained in the emails.
The emails read out by Rowley alleged a conspiracy which, at various points, mentioned: the offices of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Director of Public Prosecutions; Attorney General, Local Government Minister, the Prime Minister’s security adviser; the spy-unit Strategic Services Agency; PP Government Facebook campaigners; email exchanges in the dead of night and, apparently, one attempt to bribe by way of a plum judicial appointment.
Rowley’s contribution also suggested a plot to murder a female reporter. The emails read out by him also purportedly related to sensitive and personal events in that woman’s life.
In an immediate response, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan dismissed the emails as scandalous fabrications, and denied that one of the email addresses quoted by Rowley was his own. He said Rowley may have been influenced by the latest Star Trek movie and said the motion of no-confidence was an abuse of Parliament’s processes.
Ramlogan further attacked the PNM’s record on the Judiciary and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, two institutions which Rowley, in his motion, alleged had been placed under attack by the current Government, as demonstrated by the emails.
The sitting descended so much that Speaker Wade Mark, at one stage, ruled that certain remarks that had been made would be struck off the Hansard, Parliament’s official record, though they had already been broadcast.
The 31 email exchanges read by Rowley appeared to date from after the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act which took place at the end of August 2012. The emails spanned 17 days in September 2012.
Addressing MPs at the International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain,
Rowley said he got the emails in a package from a “whistle-blower” over six months ago. On why he took so long to bring the emails into the public domain, Rowley said he took time to ensure that the emails were not frivolous. He said he later became satisfied that the emails were information which should be given out and – at an unspecified date – took it to the Office of the President. He then said he waited six months.
“It points to grievous wrong-doing on the part of officers who have failed to answer questions to the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Rowley said in piloting his motion to condemn the Government’s treatment of the Judiciary, DPP, Opposition and the media. “It is my position that today the people of Trinidad and Tobago should be advised as to the contents of the information. I want to put on the Parliament record, for today and the future, what it is that caused me to be so concerned. The emails represent some addresses which are known to me.”
Reading from notes, he said the emails included:
Date: September 2, 2012, 11pm
My lady, please relax. Everything is in place. Nothing to worry about. We will soon chat.
There was a reply:
Date: September 3, 2012, 2 am
Subject: Re: update
I am worried AG. I do not want this to blow up in our faces. It has to be done seamlessly.
Rowley then said, “Mr Speaker, a reply comes at 2.15 in the morning. How are things going with this? Do you need to brief me on anything? Did you make contact yet? Will he be on board? I don’t want surprises.” Rowley did not specify the sender or recipient of this message or who was being referred to.
The next email, Rowley said, was from: firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com and read, “Nothing will be traced back to you. We are always united.” At this point, Government MPs began to laugh in the chamber. “Yes, you could laugh,” Rowley said. “Just remember Richard Nixon and Watergate. Let us laugh.” He moved on to another email:
Date: September 6, 2012, 11.30am
Subject: monies owed
Are you sure everything is in place? Did you chat with the DPP and ask him about it? Try and find out. By the way, he says you are asking for much money.
Rowley said, “Mr Speaker I take no ownership of this. I put this motion today so that this which was sent to me in my box from a source which I believe wants the public to know, I put it here for the benefit of you Mr Speaker. As she ends the debate, the Prime Minister (Kamla Persad- Bissessar) will tell us who is this person who says that the Attorney General is asking for much money.”
Rowley said another email followed “in response” and came at 12.15 pm from firstname.lastname@example.org on September 6, 2012. Rowley said, “It says, ‘I spot that it’s too much. We are the ones taking the risk. At the end of this, I want a helipad on my rooftop. There is no price for freedom.
“They know this. I do not know why you engage her. I am yet to approach him but will do so.” Government MPs laughed at this stage. Rowley did not explicitly specify the addressee of the 12.15 pm message. However, he said, “When the Attorney General enters the debate, I hope he will tell us who is it whose freedom is being bought. Whose freedom are they talking about? Whose freedom was being bought?”
Rowley said there was a “response to that email from the receiver under the same subject”. He said that response email said, “Hold on the request and focus elsewhere for now.” Rowley said a further response was, “As you wish my lady.” At this stage no specific email addresses were mentioned by Rowley. The Opposition Leader, at this stage, said the apparent email exchanges could be interpreted in any way.
“What bothers me about this sequence of developments up to this point was that it could mean anything,” Rowley said. But then, he said, there was another email from “Anan’s gmail” on September 8. This email, Rowley said, was to Captain Gary Griffith, the PM’s security adviser.
Date: September 8, 2012
Subject: help needed
There is an article from the Guardian that a reporter from the Guardian called me involving our boys. I need you to get your feelers out there and nip the story. Call the Sunday Guardian editor and threaten her ... if you have to just to make sure the article does not come out.
At the same time, Rowley said on September 9 an article came out on the implications of the early proclamation of Section 34. Rowley continued, “Interestingly enough, another email with the same name says, ‘Call a meeting. We need to talk urgently.’” He said there was on the next day a special Cabinet meeting.
The Opposition Leader said another email was sent from email@example.com and read, “What is going on? Did you see the article? I thought you had friends in the Guardian? How could this happen?”
Rowley said “the reply” came and read, “I saw the article. Not to worry. Remember, the Opposition supported this. That will be our defence.” He said this was an email, “at 2.51 pm from firstname.lastname@example.org”. The email was dated September 9.
At this point, Rowley said according to another email, “the head of the Government” replied at 10.27 pm, and said, “Deal with this mess. Did she speak with James? You said she could be trusted. Does she have a copy?”
Rowley said at 10.30 pm an email went out from “anan” saying, “James knows he cannot say anything. I am informed she has a copy. I will retain him to write a letter refuting what she has said.” Rowley said these were references to James Lewis QC, adviser on extradition matters.
But, according to the Opposition Leader, the emails went on. By 1 am on September 10, another email was sent from email@example.com to firstname.lastname@example.org. This email, according to Rowley, said, “We have a problem. Things are getting heated. We need action to tap the DPP office. I want to know his next move. How soon can you arrange.”
Rowley said “the captain” replied seven minutes later saying, “I will call SSA and get B. Ganpat is out of the country. He would against this move. You know he leaks.”
Rowley said “B” was a reference to Bisnath Maharaj, head of SSA. Rowley said a “response” came almost immediately saying, “I gave instructions to B to send him Germany for two weeks. I want someone to monitor DPP for this week.”