US Embassy Denies Wiretapping Hon. Castro

Posted By: Marty

US Embassy Denies Wiretapping Hon. Castro - 11/16/13 10:08 AM

Last night, 7News showed you the comments from National Security Minister John Saldivar when we asked him about the possibility that the United States Government wiretapped conversations between Belize Rural North Area Rep. Edmund Castro and the immigration agent turned whistle-blower Alvorine Burgess. She claims that she went to the US Embassy where a staffer played her recordings of conversations she'd had with Castro and another person.

Castro has denied the allegations, and he has taken out a lawsuit against Burgess and Channel 5. He says he doesn't believe anything that Burgess says.

But the Burgess claims have to be taken seriously - in light of the Eric Snowden allegations which say that the US security apparatus has set up a vast web of international electronic surveillance.

If her allegation is true - that the US is eavesdropping on public officials and private citizens in Belize -it is an invasion of privacy - and a very startling, very unlawful one.

But it is really happening, are Burgess's claims legit? Today, 7News caught up with The US Embassy's Deputy Chief of Missions, Margaret Hawthorne at an event where she was with the National security Minister John Saldivar. We asked her to respond to the Burgess allegations. Now usually such requests are met with a flat out "no comment" - after all, we put the same questions in writing to the US Embassy days ago and have gotten nothing back. But today Hawthorne was surprisingly forthcoming: She said that the US Government did not listen in on Castro's conversations:

Margaret Hawthorne - Charge D' Affairs, US Embassy
"We are of course very concerned about any allegations of visa or passport fraud really anywhere in the world because it concerns us when something like this is happening, so we are following this matter very closely. What I can say is that the person you mentioned as the informant came into the Embassy for a visa interview at her own volition. I am not at liberty to talk about what was discuss during that interview because US Law does not allow us to do that, but I can say that her statements have been inaccurate and that I can assure you that the US Embassy has not recorded anyone including any government officials in connection with this matter with what is going on here. That is not correct."

Daniel Ortiz
"Can we get a categorically statement from you as well on; are there any forms of organizations here by the US Government that is conducting any types of wiretapping or cellphone monitoring in this country at all?"

Margaret Hawthorne - Charge D' Affairs, US Embassy
"As you know I can't comment on any intelligence activity that the United States may or may not engage in. So I really can't address that question."

Mike Rudon, reporter - Channel 5
"Ma'am you said that some of her comments were inaccurate. Could you tell us in what areas....?"

Margaret Hawthorne - Charge D' Affairs, US Embassy
"I really can't address all of the specific comments, but as I said what I can say is that the US Embassy has not recorded anybody in connection with this matter and thats really the most that I can say at this point."

Mike Rudon, reporter - Channel 5
"So you couldn't speak on the allegation that the name of a minister of state has come up in conversation?"

Margaret Hawthorne - Charge D' Affairs, US Embassy
"No, again we have not recorded anybody."

So, from the response, there are several things to be noted; first, is that Hawthorne confirmed that the US Government indeed has copies of a statement which Burgess gave them, presumably about her activities as an immigration agent.

Next, Hawthorne categorically denied that they did any surveillance on Castro. And finally, she refused to comment on the possibility that the US may or may not be conducting that intelligence gathering and surveillance in the country.

Channel 7

© 2022 Ambergris Caye Belize Message Board