PORT OF SPAIN — United States based computer forensic analyst Jon Berryhill, who has been hired to prove the falsity of e-mails allegedly linking Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to conspiracy in public office, is secretly being provided with accommodation funded by the state.
He has however not been officially retained to do any work for the state. Contacted yesterday at his US California offices, Berryhill Computer Forensics, the computer expert told the Express, that “all questions should be referred to Mr. Israel Khan”.
Sources close to the investigation told the Express that Berryhill, retained by Israel Khan SC in the emailgate probe, has been quietly occupying Unit Seven at the Housing Development Company Federation Park Villas, Port of Spain.
Khan yesterday denied any knowledge of this.
He has however confirmed that it was he who hired Berryhill and it was he who was paying out of his pocket for Berryhill’s visit to this country during the investigation, but said: “I have been given the undertaking that I would be repaid for what I have spent.”
“So far I have already spent about US$23,000 for his two visits and accommodation at the Hilton. I spent US$7,000 for his first visit and another US$8,000 for the second. All I know is that my driver takes him back to the hotel,” Khan said, adding, “what he does after that, I don’t know.”
The Federation Park Villas are intended for use only by Government officials.
The Express also learnt that security officials stationed at the upscale housing compound, where at least two Government ministers, Vernella Alleyne-Topin, Minister in the Ministry of the People, and Dr Delmon Baker, Minister of Tobago Affairs are housed, have noted a flurry of activities taking place where computers and electronic devices are being ferried in and out of the compound.
Three units are also occupied by advisers to the prime minister, while the Ministry of the Attorney General has access to three of the Villas, the Express was told.
Sources also confirmed that not even the groundsmen and janitors are allowed to enter the premises at Unit Seven.
Berryhill last visited Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday when he, along with Khan accompanied the prime minister on a visit to Police Headquarters in Port of Spain, where the PM handed over her computers to investigators probing the e-mails.
He entered the emailgate probe on the invitation of Khan, and was introduced to the media on June 17, at a media conference, at Khan’s Abercromby Street Chambers.
Khan told the Express yesterday that as far as he knew, Berryhill stayed at the Hilton Trinidad during his two visits to the country.
“If he goes to Federation Park I don’t know anything about that. What I know is that he never stays for very long periods,” Khan said.
As far as working on other computers for other government officials, Khan said: “If he is doing checks on other computers I am not paying for that.”
He conceded however: “My information could be limited. Everybody is using the newspapers, including me to project a case that puts them in a good light, so if he is doing something else, I don’t know.”
Checks at the Hilton Trinidad, revealed that Berryhill did in fact stay there from June 24, and left on June 26.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said as far as he knew “the man stays at a hotel”.
Ramlogan added: “That story sounds as bogus as the thread of fictitious e-mails Dr (Keith) Rowley produced. It is designed to create the impression that the man is doing some secret work with some sinister motive.” (Express)