Kenya Police go to Hague over hacking

By CYRUS OMBATI

Two senior police officers are set to visit the International Criminal Court as part of investigations into serious claims of hacking of e-mail accounts of The Hague’s witnesses.

The hacking claim borders on serious breach of protection of witnesses who are believed to have provided information that led to confirmation of charges against four high-profile politicians, two among them aspiring to be Kenya’s fourth President.

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ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo when he met President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga during a past visit to Kenya. Ocampo has raised the red flag over intimidation of ICC witnesses. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

The visit by the officers from Criminal Investigations Department’s headquarters follows the arrest of a Nairobi-based journalist over claims he hacked into the ICC website.

Mr Dennis Itumbi, a blogger, was arrested in Embu and detained at Kileleshwa Police Station over the weekend and is expected to appear in court this morning to face two charges of illegally accessing confidential, privileged and classified information and publishing it.

Officers handling the case said they want to prefer more charges against Itumbi and they are looking for more evidence over the same.

Hacking usually involves password theft, use of certain software to undermine the security of another’s protected data, or expert attack of user accounts.

"The officers want to prefer additional charges against the suspect at a later stage. They also want to know the motive of his activities and if he had any accomplices," revealed a senior officer close to the investigations.

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Threats

It is understood that those planning to visit The Hague have secured an appointment with the Office of The Prosecutor and the Registrar of ICC as Kenya attempts to ensure witnesses are protected from threats.

Four Kenyans — Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and Kass FM journalist Joshua Sang — are waiting for ruling on one more appeal against being committed to full trial before they know their fate.

The investigation come as a team of lawyers hired by the State cautioned that the window for the Government to challenge admissibility of the Kenyan cases would close once the trial of the ‘Ocampo Four’ begins.

CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro remained guarded over information on the Itumbi matter but insisted that their investigations were proceeding well.

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It is ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo who wrote to Kenya saying there was hacking of e-mail accounts of a person of interest to his office.

It has been alleged that the court’s e-mail accounts have been hacked for witnesses’ evidence and communication between them and the Office of the Prosecutor.

The ICC prosecutor had also complained of witness intimidation. It was then that Attorney General Githu Muigai said he had ordered police and National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) to probe the matter.

"I have directed the Commissioner of Police, Director of Criminal Investigations Department and Director of National Intelligence Services to immediately and thoroughly investigate the allegations and report back to me forthwith," Prof Muigai said last week.

Witnesses

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The same instructions were given to the Director of the Witness Protection Agency in regard to intimidation of witnesses. It was then police moved into action and traced the alleged crime to Itumbi. It is not clear how they managed to establish it was Itumbi who committed the alleged crimes, but the police will still have to produce evidence in court that would convince a judge Itumbi is guilty.

The journalist was arrested in Embu last Thursday and driven to Nairobi where he spent the night at Muthaiga Police Station and later taken to CID headquarters where he was interrogated on Friday.

He was later taken to his residence in Thindigwa, Kiambu.

Itumbi on Sunday revealed he had been questioned over some documents relating to the ICC cases. The blogger added that he was also questioned over the disclosure in Parliament of documents alleged to be from Britain purporting to show that the ICC may be planning to indict President Kibaki when he leaves office.

Britain has insisted the documents were forged and sent Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr Henry Bellingham to defuse tensions set off by circulation of the document.

Concerns have been raised over protection of key witnesses in the cases pending before The Hague-based court.

Brief press

Meanwhile, the Public Information and Documentation Section (Pids) of ICC is planning a session tomorrow for journalists to explain the next procedural steps in the Kenyan case.

ICC Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit and Field Outreach Co-ordinator for the situation in Kenya, Ms Maria Kamara, will make presentations and respond to queries on the judicial decisions of the Pre-Trial Chamber II in relation to Case 1 and II.

"In addition, common misperceptions around victims will be addressed," said a statement sent to newsrooms. The workshop is organised by the ICC Registry’s Outreach Programme — Pids of the Registry.

This programme is mandated to provide information to communities affected by crimes brought before the court, and aims to cultivate awareness and understanding of judicial proceedings within these communities.

International Criminal Court Police hacking