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28.09.2005 General News

JAK's agents listening to citizen's calls

By Lens
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“The Vanguard Newspaper has the capacity to intercept telephone conversations of any person in any part of Ghana, as and when it wishes to do so.” These frightening words came from the acting editor of the Vanguard, Mr. Frank Fordjour.

Speaking in a live interview with James Agyenim Boateng of Radio Gold last Monday, Frank Fordjour admitted twice that those of them working on the Vanguard have the capacity to listen to telephone conversations of any individual nationwide.

It's been an open secret that the National Security The Vanguard is owned and operated by the National Security Coordinator, Mr. Francis Poku.

Until this amazing revelation was made by Frank Fordjour last Monday, most Ghanaians had not known the extent to which Mr. Kufuor led government and its agents including media collaborators had been freely violating the right to privacy of the Ghanaian citizenry.

Many had all along thought that only Kweku Baako was provided with means to listen to private conversations of the former President and all those in his household and his office. Kweku Baako himself boldly declared publicly that he had the means to listen to the private conversations of President Rawlings and those around him. As if that were not terrible enough, Ghanaians must now brace themselves to face the shocking truth that virtually all the pro NPP newspaper houses have been equipped with devices that in the words of Frank Fordjour enable them “to intercept telephone conversations of any person in any part of Ghana, as and when they wish to do so.”

Given that unlawfully tapping, bugging, or “intercepting” of another person's conversation is a violation of ones right to privacy, a fundamental human right, Frank Fordjour's and Kweku Baako's open admission only shows that they believe that the system would not take any action against their illegal activities.

Most analysts believe that the admissions establish beyond a shadow of doubt that those in charge of the security of the state and of all individuals in the country are in league with some persons to listen to and record the telephone conversations of certain persons in this country.

Experts with whom The Lens has spoken, say people should disabuse their minds that it is only political opponents of the government of the day that could be targetted by officially-sanctioned illegal buggers like the Vanguard.

Says one expert, “this is frightening. It means they can listen to even conversations of the President. Gosh, how safe are we in this country at the moment? No wonder, armed robberies have increased. If the Vanguard has the capacity to intercept the telephone conversations of anybody in Ghana, how many other private citizens have the same capacity and are using it to achieve other equally nefarious and sinister things like robberies, forced take-over of companies through the use of privileged information that was acquired through “intercepting” phone conversations?”

According to the experts, telephones are bugged by placing bugging devices in an area to intercept communications from targeted individuals or phones. The intercepted communication is then transmitted or conducted to a listening post. The eavesdropper can be just a few feet away from the target or miles away, depending on the kind of bugging devise being used.

The experts say that among the plethora of tell-tale signs that could be indicative that one's telephone conversations were being listened to are: when one notices strange sounds or inexplicable volume changes on one's phone line; or one notices static, popping, or scratching on one's phone lines; or one hears sounds coming from phone's handset when it is hung up.

Other tell tale signs include sudden interference in one's AM/FM radio reception; or the phone often rings but there appears to be nobody at the other end; or the phone rings but there is only a very faint tone or high pitched squeal/beep is heard for a fraction of a second; or one can hear a tone on the line even though the phone is on the hook.

Cellular and cordless telephones emit large amounts of RF energy, which can be “intercepted”. Experts say such seemingly "secure" digital spread spectrum like, TDMA, CDMA, PCS, GSM, are easily be intercepted. Says one expert, “Anything with an antenna can be monitored and transmissions to and from it intercepted. In fact that is why elsewhere there are stringent laws on bugging.”

Meanwhile a Human Rights lawyer, Nana Oye Lithur, has called on the security agencies to conduct investigations into the matter. She deplored the fact that the rights of citizens to privacy has been, and to all intents and purposes, is being continually violated by persons at the Vanguard.

“This is criminal,” Nana Oye Lithur declared.