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BlackBerry data key to probe

January 05, 2012


Mansoor Ijaz has submitted to the Supreme Court the record of his alleged conversation with Husain Haqqani through BlackBerry. - File Photo

ISLAMABAD: A response from Research in Motion (RIM), the service provider of BlackBerry, will set the pace of memo issue investigation by a three-member judicial commission formed by the Supreme Court.

In response to an email by Dawn for an official version of the company on the commission’s directives to seek access to the record of BlackBerry sets used by former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani and Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, RIM said: “Like others in our industry, from time to time, we may receive requests from legal authorities for lawful access assistance. We are guided by appropriate legal processes and publicly disclose lawful access principles in this regard as we balance such requests against our priority of maintaining privacy rights of our users. We do not speculate or comment upon individual matters of lawful access.”

The response to the email came from one Tenille Kennedy in RIM’s corporate communications. Mansoor Ijaz has submitted to the Supreme Court the record of his alleged conversation with Mr Haqqani through BlackBerry.

He claimed that he and Mr Haqqani had detailed discussion between May 9 and 12 last year through short messages (SMS), BlackBerry messages (BBM), emails and calls before writing a memo to then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen.

At no point during that period he had met Mr Haqqani although both of them were in London, he said.

However, Mr Ijaz’s affidavit filed in the court does not say that Mr Haqqani responded to his emails relating to the memo. The tricky question is that even if RIM confirms that Mr Ijaz and Mr Haqqani had engaged in conversation will it say anything about contents of the calls.

The record of SMSs and BBMs provided by Mr Ijaz doesn’t carry anything specific on the ‘memogate’ which could be attributed to Mr Haqqani.

Secondly, most of what has been provided by Mr Ijaz in the affidavit contains codes and semi-codes which he has explained according to his understanding.

In such cases it would be difficult for the commission to interpret the codes which could go either way,” Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Zafarullah Khan said.

He said Qanoon-i-Shahadat 1984 (evidence law) Article 164 quoted in the affidavit by Mr Ijaz was admissible, but the difficult part was to verify the authenticity of conversation.

Veteran Supreme Court lawyer S.M. Zafar told Dawn that the ‘memogate’ scandal had a number of legal complications which needed to be resolved before reaching a conclusion.

“As per my understanding of the case, the Canadian company (RIM) will only proceed further to retrieve the required data if both Mr Ijaz and Mr Haqqani will agree to it. Otherwise, in the presence of strict privacy laws, it is simply not possible,” he said.

Even if the two agreed to go ahead with the probe which looked plausible, Mr Zafar added, RIM would have to follow certain international regulations in revealing information that would be a tricky area.