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Mountie who recorded Lucki meeting first told investigators tape lost on stolen phone

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HALIFAX — An affidavit by an RCMP security investigator details how the force obtained recordings of a tense meeting at the centre of allegations of political interference into the Mounties’ investigation into the Nova Scotia mass shooting.

The affidavit sworn Friday by Supt. Jeffrey Beaulac, the RCMP’s deputy chief security officer at national headquarters in Ottawa, was released Tuesday by the public inquiry into the April 18-19, 2020, shootings that claimed 22 lives.

The 24 minutes of conversation were recorded on April 28, 2020, during a call between RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and senior RCMP staff in Halifax.

Beaulac said that in June, senior management learned that the RCMP’s director of media relations, Dan Brien, had recorded at least part of the call.

“I am informed that on June 24, 2022, Chief Supt. Michael O’Malley was told by Mr. Brien that the recording was done on a personal device and it was no longer available as it was on an old phone that had been stolen,” said Beaulac.

He said Brien’s direct manager Jolene Bradley also discussed the recording with him and another national communications services manager.

“She was told by Mr. Brien that the recording was done in error and it was not his common practice to record meetings. He stated the call had been recorded on a personal device that he no longer had use of.”

Beaulac said he was informed that Brien went on sick leave on July 7 and has not returned to work. He said the RCMP subsequently undertook a security review and an administrative review.

On Sept. 7, Beaulac said the RCMP retrieved two RCMP-issued laptops and one RCMP-issued mobile device from Brien. The devices, RCMP networks, shared drives, and work emails were searched beginning on Sept. 13.

“As of today’s date, the recording of April 28, 2020, call has not been located during these searches of the RCMPs technical infrastructure,” he said.

Beaulac said a security investigator on Sept. 20 interviewed Brien, and confirmed that he was actually still in possession of the phone he used to record the call. He told the investigator that he had deleted the app used to record the call sometime between the April 28 meeting and this spring due to “space limitations on his phone.”

Brien said the recording had not been made on a phone that was stolen from him, but the affidavit says “he may have thought so” in June because he did not remember when the theft occurred.

Brien subsequently agreed to have the phone forensically examined and gave his permission to do so on Oct. 12. The next day, Beaulac said he was advised that three audio files had been retrieved concerning the April 28 call. The commission of inquiry was advised on Oct. 14 and was given the recordings on Oct. 17.

Beaulac said the RCMPs security investigation into the matter is ongoing.

“While the files do not cover the entirety of the meeting, they are a complete capture of what the (Digital Forensic Services) extracted from Mr. Brien’s phone,” he said.

The recordings did not come to light until September, when RCMP Deputy Commissioner Brian Brennan told the federal-provincial inquiry in Halifax that Brien had recorded portions of the meeting.

During the call, Lucki said she understood the police force couldn’t release certain details about the investigation into how the gunman killed 22 people during the 13-hour rampage.

However, she said she felt frustrated when she learned the speaking notes used for an RCMP news conference earlier that day did not include basic information about the killer’s weapons.

She can be heard saying her desire to publicly share these basic facts was in response to a request she received from a minister’s office, though she did not specify which minister or the exact nature of the request.

Opposition parties seized on the comments to suggest the Liberal government was interfering in the police investigation to further its pending gun control legislation, something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2022.

 

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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Second B.C. university issues trespass notice to pro-Palestinian protesters

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VICTORIA – The University of Victoria in British Columbia says it has begun the process of removing the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus, telling protesters they are trespassing on school property.

The school says in its latest encampment update that it has “taken a calm, measured and reasoned approach” to the protest since it was set up on May 1, but administrators “see no further prospect for a successful dialogue.”

On its social media page, protesters naming themselves “People’s Park UVIC” confirm the school has issued them a trespass notice, adding the administration has told them to “vacate by 8 a.m. Monday.”

The group did not specify their plans while asking the public to “stay tuned for updates from camp and plans going forward.”

Protesters at the university have been demanding the school cut financial and academic ties with Israeli entities due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, and the latest development comes about a week after Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, B.C. launched legal action against protesters there for allegedly ignoring a deadline to leave their camp.

Vancouver Island University says it had issued its trespass notice to protesters on July 11.

University of Victoria says in its update that the school had been working toward “a peaceful conclusion of the encampment” since June through facilitated discussions with protesters.

“Unfortunately, we have not successfully achieved agreement on the process and timeline for decampment,” the school update says. ”The university was disappointed to learn of this impasse through social media posts from People’s Park UVic.”

The protest group says on its social media page that protesters “have negotiated in good faith” but described the school’s last proposed resolution as having “no concrete commitments” and containing “ineffective policy” that fails to address what they are calling a genocide in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The group also reposted a statement from July 19, saying it is “unfortunately no surprise to once again witness our administration betraying the integrity of this process and emphasizing that these negotiations have been and always will be on their terms.”

A camp at the University of British Columbia was vacated by protesters voluntarily on July 7.

The recent developments come after an Ontario court granted the University of Toronto an injunction on July 2 that ordered protesters there to dismantle their encampment on the grounds that it is a violation of the school’s property rights.

Legal experts have said the decision sets a powerful precedent and creates a road map for other schools to follow in seeking legal recourse in removing protest encampments on campus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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With AI, jets and police squadrons, Paris is securing the Olympics – and worrying critics

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PARIS (AP) — A year ago, the head of the Paris Olympics boldly declared that France’s capital would be “ the safest place in the world ” when the Games open this Friday. Tony Estanguet’s confident forecast looks less far-fetched now with squadrons of police patrolling Paris’ streets, fighter jets and soldiers primed to scramble, and imposing metal-fence security barriers erected like an iron curtain on both sides of the River Seine that will star in the opening show.

France’s vast police and military operation is in large part because the July 26-Aug. 11 Games face unprecedented security challenges. The city has repeatedly suffered deadly extremist attacks and international tensions are high because of the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Rather than build an Olympic park with venues grouped together outside of the city center, like Rio de Janeiro in 2016 or London in 2012, Paris has chosen to host many of the events in the heart of the bustling capital of 2 million inhabitants, with others dotted around suburbs that house millions more. Putting temporary sports arenas in public spaces and the unprecedented choice to stage a river-borne opening ceremony stretching for kilometers (miles) along the Seine, makes safeguarding them more complex.

Olympic organizers also have cyberattack concerns, while rights campaigners and Games critics are worried about Paris’ use of AI-equipped surveillance technology and the broad scope and scale of Olympic security.

Paris, in short, has a lot riding on keeping 10,500 athletes and millions of visitors safe. Here’s how it aims to do it.

The security operation, by the numbers

A Games-time force of up to 45,000 police and gendarmes is also backed up by a 10,000-strong contingent of soldiers that has set up the largest military camp in Paris since World War II, from which soldiers should be able to reach any of the city’s Olympic venues within 30 minutes.

Armed military patrols aboard vehicles and on foot have become common in crowded places in France since gunmen and suicide bombers acting in the names of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group repeatedly struck Paris in 2015. They don’t have police powers of arrest but can tackle attackers and restrain them until police arrive. For visitors from countries where armed street patrols aren’t the norm, the sight of soldiers with assault rifles might be jarring, just as it was initially for people in France.

“At the beginning, it was very strange for them to see us and they were always avoiding our presence, making a detour,” said Gen. Éric Chasboeuf, deputy commander of the counter-terror military force, called Sentinelle.

“Now, it’s in the landscape,” he said.

Rafale fighter jets, airspace-monitoring AWACS surveillance flights, Reaper surveillance drones, helicopters that can carry sharpshooters, and equipment to disable drones will police Paris skies, which will be closed during the opening ceremony by a no-fly zone extending for 150 kilometers (93 miles) around the capital. Cameras twinned with artificial intelligence software — authorized by a law that expands the state’s surveillance powers for the Games — will flag potential security risks, such as abandoned packages or crowd surges,

France is also getting help from more than 40 countries that, together, have sent at least 1,900 police reinforcements.

Trump assassination attempt highlights Olympic risks

Attacks by lone individuals are major concern, a risk driven home most recently to French officials by the assassination attempt against Donald Trump.

Some involved in the Olympic security operation were stunned that the gunman armed with an AR-style rifle got within range of the former U.S. president.

“No one can guarantee that there won’t be mistakes. There, however, it was quite glaring,” said Gen. Philippe Pourqué, who oversaw the construction of a temporary camp in southeast Paris housing 4,500 soldiers from the Sentinelle force.

In France, in the last 13 months alone, men acting alone have carried out knife attacks that targeted tourists in Paris, and children in a park in an Alpine town, among others. A man who stabbed a teacher to death at his former high school in northern France in October had been under surveillance by French security services for suspected Islamic radicalization.

With long and bitter experience of deadly extremist attacks, France has armed itself with a dense network of police units, intelligence services and investigators who specialize in fighting terrorism, and suspects in terrorism cases can be held longer for questioning.

Hundreds of thousands of background checks have scrutinized Olympic ticket-holders, workers and others involved in the Games and applicants for passes to enter Paris’ most tightly controlled security zone, along the Seine’s banks. The checks blocked more than 3,900 people from attending, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. He said some were flagged for suspected Islamic radicalization, left- or right-wing political extremism, significant criminal records and other security concerns.

“We’re particularly attentive to Russian and Belorussian citizens,” Darmanin added, although he stopped short of linking exclusions to Russia’s war in Ukraine and Belarus’ role as an ally of Moscow.

Darmanin said 155 people considered to be “very dangerous” potential terror threats are also being kept away from the opening ceremony and the Games, with police searching their homes for weapons and computers in some cases.

He said intelligence services haven’t identified any proven terror plots against the Games “but we are being extremely attentive.”

Critics fear intrusive Olympic security will stay after the Games

Campaigners for digital rights worry that Olympic surveillance cameras and AI systems could erode privacy and other freedoms, and zero in on people without fixed homes who spend a lot of time in public spaces.

Saccage 2024, a group that has campaigned for months against the Paris Games, took aim at the scope of the Olympic security, describing it as a “repressive arsenal” in a statement to The Associated Press.

“And this is not a French exception, far from it, but a systematic occurrence in host countries,” it said. “Is it reasonable to offer one month of ‘festivities’ to the most well-off tourists at the cost of a long-term securitization legacy for all residents of the city and the country?”

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Kayaker dies after accident in Quebec’s Mauricie region on Saturday

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MONTREAL – A kayaker has died after capsizing in Quebec’s Mauricie region on Saturday.

Quebec provincial police says emergency services were called at about 12:15 p.m. to a site on the Matawin River near Trois-Rives, about 110 kilometres west of Quebec City.

They say the initial call described a person in distress.

The kayaker, a man in his 50s, is believed to have capsized while paddling on the river.

He was missing for a period of time before being pulled from the water by other kayakers.

The victim was taken to hospital, but police confirmed late Saturday that he had died.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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