23 March 2012

Kenya: Police Arrest 'ICC Email Hacker'

The International Criminal Court has now set up a three-judge trial chamber assigned to hear the cases facing four Kenyan suspects. ( Resource: Kenya: Ocampo Four Trial Bench Constituted

A journalist has been arrested by police on suspicion of hacking into the International Criminal Court server and obtaining confidential information.

Dennis Itumbi was arrested on Thursday night at his rural home in Embu where he was reportedly hiding after evading four attempts at arrest by police. He is likely to spend the weekend in the cells before appearing in court on Monday.

Detectives from the Serious Crime unit started hunting for Itumbi on Monday after investigators from Cyber Crime Unit linked him to the alleged ICC hacking. The investigators staked out his house in Thindigua for days but could not find him. The police eventually tracked his phone in Embu on Thursday night. He was arrested, brought to Nairobi and detained at Muthaiga police station.

Investigators want to recover a computer or a mobile phone that the ex-People daily and Baraka FM reporter allegedly used to hack the ICC system. CID Director Francis Muhoro Ndegwa told the Star that the police were questioning Itumbi on suspicion of hacking into the ICC domain. Yesterday, Itumbi recorded a statement at CID headquarters denying that he had hacked into the ICC domain.

Last month, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo threatened to seek arrest warrants for those interfering with witnesses in the Kenyan cases. Ocampo claimed that some individuals were threatening ICC witnesses who are likely to testify against the four Kenyan suspects facing trial over the 2008 post election violence.

CID Director Francis Muhoro and Serious Crime Unit boss John Kariuki yesterday met to decide the way forward. Police sources said Itumbi will be arraigned in court on Monday to answer two charges of hacking of a website and and email contrary to the Communication Commission Act. "We have no doubt that this the man we have been looking for," said the source.

Last week, Attorney General Githu Muigai directed the Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere, CID boss Francis Muhoro and NSIS boss Michael Gichangi to investigate the claims that a Kenyan had hacked into ICC emails to intimidate witnesses. Muigai said that he had received a complaint from Ocampo that there was "hacking of email accounts of a person of interest" and intimidation of witnesses.

"Without prejudice to the ongoing investigations, I wish to caution that any person guilty of interfering in any way with the process of the cases before the ICC or meddling in the local investigations relating to the post-election violence case, is liable and shall face the full force of law," Muigai advised Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko.

Last month Itumbi threatened to sue fellow blogger Robert Alai for claiming that he was behind the forged UK Foreign Office documents that allegedly proved that Britain was supporting Prime Minister Raila Odinga. MPs on Monday are due to start investigating the origin and authenticity of the documents.

Itumbi was seen in Parliament on the day that the forged documents were distributed to MPs. Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo tabled the alleged briefing papers that apparently showed that the UK wanted to have President Kibaki indicted after he leaves office and to have Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto arrested in April.

Itumbi has been reportedly working as a consultant for Kenyan politicians. He has allegedly been paid for media coordination and other related activities. A document has been circulating showing the alleged monthly expenses of a local politician. It is not known if the document is genuine or forged. The document records that in January 'Dennis' received about Sh238,000 itemized as 'ICC related press conferences' and Sh18,800 for 'Serena Hotel (press conference hall hire bill).' Itumbi runs a popular blog on Facebook.

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