Monday, Mar 18, 2019

Whistleblower says Cambridge Analytica data specialist found dead in Kenyan hotel may have been POISONED after a deal went 'sour'

Whistleblower says Cambridge Analytica data specialist found dead in Kenyan hotel may have been POISONED after a deal went 'sour'
27 Mar

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie has revealed his predecessor died mysteriously in a Kenyan hotel room - and may have been poisoned.

He said Dan Muresan was working for President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election campaign when he was found dead in 2012 amid reports a deal he was working on went 'sour'.

Giving evidence to the culture select committee of MPs, Mr Wylie told how rumours that Mr Muresan had been killed circulated around the controversial data firm.

And he heard talk the Kenyan police had been bribed not to enter the hotel room for 24 hours in a bid to cover up the possible murder.

He made the explosive comments to a committee of MPs investigating the spread of fake news.

Rumours that the death could have been murdered will fuel concerns about Cambridge Analytica and the shady world it operated in.

He said: 'Cambridge Analytica was working with Kenyan politicians, but because in a lot of African countries if a deal goes wrong you pay for it.

'Dan was my predecessor....what I heard was that he was working on some kind of deal of some sort - I'm not sure what.

'The deal went sour.

'People suspected he was poisoned in his hotel room. I also heard that the police had got bribed not to enter the hotel room for 24 hours.'

He added: 'That is what I was told - I was not there so I speak to the veracity of it.'

Mr Wylie said that when he joined Cambridge Analytica in 2012 he did not know the name of his predecessor or what happened to him.

But he asked his colleagues after he could not find a file he was hunting for. It was then that he heard the rumours about the death, MPs were told.

Mr Muresan was the son of former Romanian Agriculture Minister Ioan Avram Muresan, who is now in prison for corruption charges.

His mysterious death made the news in his home country.

According to a report of his death which ran in 2012 in the Bucharest Herald, the 32 year-old had studied at the LSE in London and had coordinated election campaigns in Europe, Africa and the US.

Romania's Foreign Ministry told the Bucharest Herald at the time: 'The Romanian citizen was working with a British telecommunications company, being in Kenya for a while.

'He had not yet registered his presence on Kenyan territory with the Romanian diplomatic mission.

'The same source shows that after the police arrived, the body was taken by an undertaker company for an autopsy.'

Paul-Olivier Dehaye, an IT expert, told the committee: ‘My understanding relating back to your predecessor Dan Muresan.

‘There are stories that have come out in India…he was working for Congress apparently according to reports.

‘But apparently he was really paid for by an Indian billionaire who actually wanted Congress to loose.

‘So he was pretending to work for one party while actually paid by someone else.’

He called for collaboration between the three countries to get to the bottom of what happened to Mr Muresan.

In a lengthy appearance in front of the select committee, Mr Wylie also made more claims about questionable activities carried out by the SCL Group, a strategic communications company linked to CA.

He claimed that SCL had been involved in a project in Nigeria in 2015 which had involved hacking the private information of Muhammadu Buhari, who was running for president.

And he claimed AIQ had distributed compromising material - known as kompromat - and videos designed to intimidate Mr Buhari's supporters.

He said: 'The company utilised the services of an Israeli private intelligence firm, Black Cube.

'Black Cube on the Nigeria project was engaged to hack the now-president Buhari to get access to his medical records and private emails.

'AIQ worked on that project. AIQ was handed material in Nigeria from Cambridge Analytica to distribute online.

'That's distribution of kompromat and of incredibly threatening and violent video content which I've passed on to the committee.

'The videos that AIQ distributed in Nigeria with the sole intent of intimidating voters included content where people were being dismembered, where people were having their throats cut and bled to death in a ditch, they were being burned alive.

'There were incredibly anti-Islamic and threatening messages portraying Muslims as violent.'

In a statement issued after the hearing, Black Cube said it has always operated within the law.

It said: 'Whilst we are flattered that we are seemingly being connected with every international incident that occurs, we will state that Chris Wylie’s testimony is a flagrant lie.

'We categorically declare that neither Black Cube, nor any of its affiliates and subsidiaries, have ever worked for, or engaged with, SCL, Cambridge Analytica, or any of their affiliates and subsidiaries.

'Black Cube has never operated in Nigeria nor has it worked on any project connected to Nigeria, and none of its employees have ever set foot in Nigeria.

'Black Cube will investigate this claim on a pro bono basis, and will reveal the truth and the motive behind Wylie's defamatory lie.'

They also threatened to sue Mr Wylie.

in his evidence, Mr Wylie also alleged that AIQ had worked on a project in Trinidad & Tobago, which involved attempting to harvest the internet data of the country's entire population.

He said: 'You've got AggregateIQ, who received 40 per cent of Vote Leave's spending, also involved in projects which involved hacked material and kompromat and distributing violent videos of people being bled to death to intimidate voters.

'This is the company that played an incredibly pivotal role in politics here.

'Something that I would strongly recommend to the committee would be that they push the authorities here and give them the support they need to investigate this company.'

He said that SCL would help politicians win elections in African countries so it could use its influence to broker commercial deals and line their pockets.

Describing how SCL operates, Mr Wylie said: 'You can be a colonial master in these was very much like a privatized colonial operation'

He also revealed more details about the characters behind Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group.

He said that Alexander Nix, CA's chief executive, set up a fake office in Cambridge in a bid to woo Steve Bannon - Donald Trump's former chief strategist, who was more at home speaking to students than sitting in the firm's plush Mayfair offices.

He also revealed that Mr Nix was very wealthy.

He said: 'You have to remember that a lot of these people are very wealthy already.

'Alexander Nix in particular - there was one time when we were running late because he had to pick up a £200,000 chandelier.

'These are people who don't need to make a lot of money, but the thing that I learned is that for certain wealthy people, they need something to keep them occupied and they need projects.

'Going into the developing world and running a country is something that appeals to them.'

Cambridge Analytica has been plunged into controversy after Mr Wylie blew the whistle on claims that it harvested data from 50 million Facebook users without getting their permission.

My Wylie told MPs that thought Mr Nix was 'exceptionally misleading' in his evidence to the committee adding: 'Not just misleading but dishonest.'

He also accused Dominic Cummings, the strategist at Vote Leave who is credited with masterminding the victory, of finding ways of cheating in the Brexit referendum.

Mr Wylie said he found ways to bust spending limits by telling other Brexit backing organisations including BeLeave to used their money to pay for a digital advertising blitz by AIQ.

He said: 'This is cheating....if you cheat on an exam you get a fail if you chat on the Olympics you lose your medal. You should not win by cheating.'

He added: 'There could have been a different outcome in the referendum had there not been cheating.'

He said Cambridge Analyica is not a legitimate firm and that 'no good' has come from it.

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