The legality of the information collection methods used to search for evidence of terrorism and hate crimes in the seized mobile phones of the detainees in Fundaredes and Voluntad Popular (VP) cases derives from the weight of the allegations of complicity, conspiracy to commit a crime and extreme right-wing sedition to commit terrorist acts, and it is based on Article 223 of the Organic Criminal Procedure Code (COPP).
Article 223 of COPP states: ”The Public Ministry will carry out or order investigations by experts, when for the examination of a person or object, in order to discover or assess in a conviction, some special technical knowledge or skills are required in any given science, art or trade.”
Therefore, this article can be applied in the matter of evidence collection from the aforementioned devices, where the conversations that may be used as evidence of the so-called Fiesta de Caracas case have been analysed by the Prosecutor’s Office and Parliament in their evaluation of possible elements for conviction.
Judgment 136 from March 11, 2016, of the Criminal Appeal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, offers jurisprudence on the matter in question and highlights the provisions of Article 317 of the COPP.
Regarding this issue, PSUV leader and National Assembly deputy Diosdado Cabello explained, in the July 14 episode of his program Con el Mazo Dando, that ”this use of technical expertise is known as physical examination, information unloading and content extraction,” adding that ”all telephones ‘speak.’”
Cabello stated that in regard to extracting conversations on Whatsapp, a platform that recently suffered a mass migration of its users to other messaging services, precisely due to the premise of its lack of privacy, such a thing was not necessary because ”if you have the cell phone, why would you need to do that?”
”If a person was arrested with ten cell phones, then each and everyone of them ‘talks,’ since they all have a call list, a message list,” added the deputy.
Cabello also accused the director of NGO Fundaredes, Javier Tarazona, of planning to kidnap a former Colombian senator, currently detained by Venezuelan authorities.
Cabello indicated that this information was obtained from other mobile phones that Tarazona had in his possession. The NGO head, along with two other members of his organization, has been accused of inciting hatred and threatening the peace of the country.
“Three cell phones were seized from Javier Tarazona,” informed Cabello, ”and it took five days to download information from one of them. From that phone evidence was found that they were planning to kidnap a Colombian lady who came [to Venezuela], former senator Aída Merlano, and they were paid $36,000 for that job. More things continue to surface.”
Featured image: Conversations between Emilio Graterón and Leopoldo López where they were planning terrorist attacks in some Caracas neighborhoods. Photo: Twitter / @Asamblea_ven
(Últimas Noticias) by Victor Castellanos
Translation: Orinoco Tribune