Govt never sanctioned Roger Khan spy gear purchase– home ministry
Stabroek News news item. Tuesday June 10, 2008
The government yesterday said it “rejects outright” the claim that it had authorised the importation “by the Roger Khan outfit of the sensitive piece of electronic equipment seized by the Joint Services.”
The denial came in a statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which also stated that the ministry had asked the American authorities to provide it with the records of all such applications. Home Minister Clement Rohee had earlier said that he had no comment to make on the issue.
Lawyers for Khan, who is facing drug charges in the US, have cited an FBI investigation, which they claim revealed that the government had given Khan permission to purchase the sensitive electronic surveillance equipment from Spy Shops in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The equipment, which was in the form of a laptop computer, was reportedly capable of intercepting and tracing telephone calls made from a landline or a cellular phone and the software is reportedly only sold to governments,
The unobtrusive Spy Shops building at 600 W Oakland Park Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
According to the Home Ministry statement, the US, like most countries, “has strict export controls on the sale/export of such items.
“In Guyana, such sensitive electronic items could only be procured and imported for the exclusive use of law enforcement agencies,” the statement said.
Further, the ministry said, “Such a request by the law enforcement agencies of Guyana would have to be approved by the relevant authorities before an application is made by the Government of Guyana to the relevant American authorities for approval for the item to be exported to Guyana.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs asserts that it did not authorize the importation of the electronic equipment under question nor did it seek any approval of the US authorities for an export licence for the item
“In the context of the above, the Ministry of Home Affairs has since requested the American authorities to provide it with the records of all such applications made by the Government of Guyana during the period of the operations of the Roger Khan outfit.”
In a subpoena to the US Drug Enforcement Admin-istration, Khan’s lawyers stated: “FBI agent Justin Krider investigated Khan’s purchase of the computer telephonic surveillance equipment from Spy Shops in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and found Khan had permission from the Government of Guyana to purchase and possess this equipment.”
They are seeking the testimony and all documents in Krider’s possession as these relate to the surveillance equipment purchased in Florida.
In a background paragraph, the subpoena said Khan was alleged to have used the equipment to improperly wiretap various high-ranking officials and others within Guyana in order to maintain his “alleged drug organization.”
Spy Shops is located at 600 W Oakland Park Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. According to its website, it specializes in spy equipment such as GPS trackers, video cameras, private investigation, secure cellular phones, DVR, night vision, bug sweeps, voice recorders, voice changers, counter-surveillance and audio surveillance.
“Do you think you’re being spied on? If so, Spy Shops has a vast array of counter-surveillance options that can help you track down unwanted video cameras, audio surveillance and GPS trackers,” their website said.
All of the equipment available can also be purchased online with the use of Visa, Mastercard, or American Express credit cards or through the PayPal system. Stabroek News contacted Spy Shops in an effort to secure a comment but officials indicated that they would not be giving out any information.
Khan became known when along with Haroon Yahya and policeman Sean Belfield he was detained on December 4, 2002 by an army patrol and turned over to the police following the discovery of the sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment and arms in a pick-up at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara.
At the time of their arrests they had told law enforcement officials that they were in search of Shawn Brown and the other prison escapees who had fled the Camp Street prison earlier that year. Khan and the two others were later charged with possession of arms and ammunition and placed on $500,000 bail each. The charges were subsequently dismissed by the late magistrate Jerrick Stephney at the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court the following year.
Since their release there has been no public information on what happened to the equipment and many questions posed to officials by this newspaper on how the equipment came into the country and what happened to it after the court case went unanswered.
It was believed that the surveillance equipment was passed back to Khan after the trial, as Khan had later acknowledged that he had taped several conversations of leading security officials and other personalities.
Prior to his arrest in Suriname and subsequently by the US authorities, Khan had argued repeatedly that he had assisted the Guyana government in fighting crime and subversive elements. His pitch appeared to be an attempt to win public support against his apprehension by the American authorities and also to have the government here acknowledge his role