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CID informs PCoI its inability to recover deleted data from the phone of ex-SIS Director

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Digital Forensic Laboratory of the CID had been unable to recover deleted data from the mobile phone used by former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena during the Easter Sunday attacks, the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks was told on Wednesday night.

OIC of the Digital Forensic Laboratory, Sampath Kumara Senaratne told the PCoI that Jayawardena’s wife was using the phone now and that Jayawardena told him that he conducted a factory reset before giving it to his wife. A factory reset restores an electronic device to its original system state by erasing all information stored on the device.

The PCoI in September ordered a mobile phone and a laptop used by former State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director to be sent to the CID for extraction of data relevant to their investigation. SDIG Mahesh Welikanna, attached to PCoI Police unit, was asked to take into custody a mobile phone used by SDIG Jayawardena, which he used to record some of his conversations with senior security officials after Easter Sunday attacks and his laptop that he had been using to give evidence.

Chairman of PCoI also gave specific instructions to the SDIG of the CID about handling the devices. He said: “These devices must be opened before a representative of Jayawardena, two officers of PCoI police unit, a CERT official appointed to assist the PCoI and a representative of the current SIS Director. Any relevant data, in conversations recorded or in messaging applications, between January 01 and December 31, 2019, must be extracted in front of these individuals.”

The Chairman also ordered the SDIG of the CID to ‘hard delete’ (erase in a way that is impossible to recover data) personal data or information pertaining to national security. However, that did not apply to data pertaining to early warnings on Easter Sunday attacks, any information on National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) or its leader Zahran Hashim, suicide bombers and those who were killed in Sainthamaruthu on April 26, 2019.

The Chairman said: “The CID must also see if there has been any deletion of data and see if they can be recovered. All the reports should be sent to PCoI secretary. After the investigations are over the phone and laptop should be returned to the PCoI secretary too.”

This task was entrusted to the OIC of the Digital Forensic Unit, who presented a report to the PCoI on Wednesday night. OIC Sampath Kumara Senaratne informed the Commission that since Jayawardena had done a factory reset there was no way of reproducing deleted content.

Chairman of the PCoI: “Did you ask SDIG Jayawardena why he had done a factory reset ?”

OIC Senaratne: “He told me that he had given the mobile phone to his wife and that he had wanted to remove everything that could compromise national security from the phone.”

Chairman of the PCoI: “But you couldn’t verify when the data was deleted?”

OIC Senaratne: “No. Verifying the data would have required me to connect the phone to the Internet. However, I was working within certain limitations set by the PCoI. Moreover, in a digital forensic investigation, we usually don’t connect the phone to the Internet. So, I couldn’t verify when a factory reset was done.”

However, the CID had been able to recover some data that had been deleted from SDIG Jayawardena’s laptop, the PCoI was informed.

The OIC said that about 2.6 million deleted files had been recovered and about 210 of them, relevant to the probe handed over to the Presidential Commission Police Unit.



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Domestic debt restructuring will cripple EPF, ETF – JVP

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By Sirimatha Rathnasekera

The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF) will lose about 600 billion rupees during the proposed domestic debt structuring, Co-Convener of the JVP affiliated National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) Wasantha Samarasinghe claimed.

Samarasinghe is of the opinion that the government is planning not to pay 20 to 25 percent of the loans it has taken from domestic sources. Successive governments have borrowed significantly from the EPF and ETF, he said.

Samarasinghe said that due to the depreciation of the rupee, the real value of EPF and ETF funds had decreased by half. “In such a context, can these institutions take a 20 percent haircut? This might be a big problem to the workers,” he said.

The NTUC Co-Convener said that a number of domestic banks, too, had lent to the government and domestic debt restructuring might lead to a collapse in the banking system.

However, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe says that they are confident of reaching debt sustainability without re-structuring domestic debt, which would lead to problems in the banking sector.

“There have been concerns among domestic bond investors about rupee debt/internal debt to be restructured following comments made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to the effect that financial advisors were looking at domestic debt. However, there has been no request to restructure domestic debt. We are confident that we can make debt sustainable without restructuring domestic debt,” Dr. Weerasinghe told the media at the CBSL’s 6th Review of the Monetary Policy stance for this year, at the CBSL head office auditorium, in Colombo, on Thursday.

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Powerful CEBEU says yes to restructuring but on its terms

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Sri Lanka will experience periodic power cuts until 2027 if the government did not take steps to increase electricity production, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) said yesterday.Due to electricity shortages, the Norochcholai Power Plant had been operational non-stop, sometimes even without scheduled maintenance, CEBEU President, Saumya Kumarawadu said.

“A generator is down. We will get it back online within 14 days. We had started maintenance on another plant in June and it was to be back online in September. But it has been delayed till November,” he said.

Kumarawadu said there would be 10-hour power cuts without Norochcholai. However, the power cuts could be reduced in two weeks when the generator was restored, he said.

He added that while they support restructuring of the CEB, they oppose de-bundling and selling the CEB to various private actors.

“Power cuts might have to go on till 2026 or 2027 unless new plants come up. A proposal to build an LNG power plant is still languishing in the Cabinet,” he said.

The CEBEU President also said that the electricity tariff was last increased in 2012. In 2014, the tariff was reduced. Without increasing electricity tariffs, the CEB will have to get increasing amounts of money from the treasury.

“The government should have increased the tariff at regular intervals. We haven’t increased in a decade and suddenly we have increased by a large amount.That’s why it has come as a shock to people,” he said.

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SJB opposes blanket privatisations

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… questions logic of selling cash cows like Telecom and Insurance

The SJB was opposed to the privatisation of profit-making government entities, Chief Opposition Whip, MP Lakshman Kiriella, said yesterday, in Colombo.Kiriella said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had told The Economist magazine that they are thinking of privatising Sri Lanka Telecom and Sri Lanka Insurance.

“These are two institutions that make a profit. What is the point in privatising these?” he asked.

MP Kiriella said that they are not opposed to privatizing SriLankan Airlines, which has been making losses for years.

“We can talk about these things in Parliament. Even when we privatize loss making entities we have to take a number of things into consideration. What will happen to the workers? How will we compensate them? How will we re-skill them? We have to talk about these things openly before doing anything,” he said.

The Chief Opposition Whip said that one of the main reasons why people oppose privatization is because everything is done in secrecy.

“People wonder why things are hidden from them. We need to be open and transparent when we restructure,” he said.

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