/ 12 April 2009

Zuma’s lawyer keeps mum over origin of tapes

ANC president Jacob Zuma’s lawyer has denied National Intelligence Agency (NIA) deputy head Arthur Fraser gave him secret tape recordings, the Sunday Independent reported.

The recordings played a key role in the dropping of fraud and corruption charges against Zuma.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) withdrew corruption and fraud charges against Zuma on Tuesday in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court after acting NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe announced on Monday that the secret connivance between former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka amounted to an ‘intolerable abuse”.

”I’ve never met the guy. I didn’t know that such a person existed. This is the first time I’ve heard his name,” Michael Hulley, Zuma’s lawyer, told the newspaper.

He was responding to reports that it was Fraser who had leaked the tapes to Zuma’s camp.

Hulley also denied that Fraser might have facilitated the tapes through an intermediary, albeit unknown to Hulley.

”Categorically, no. Not even that possibility existed. There is no causal link, not even in the most obtuse way,” Hulley said.

Hulley told the newspaper he knew who had passed on the information but would not say who it was.

”It is information that was given to us by at least two different sources,” he said.

The M&G was reliably told this week that Fraser did a ‘political flip-flop” and handed the NIA recordings, legally obtained during his probe of the Browse Mole report, to Zuma’s legal team.

‘We understand Fraser felt the need to ingratiate himself with the new administration of Zuma and handed the NIA tapes over,” the M&G was told by a senior legal source with knowledge of the spy tapes.

DA lays charges
The Democratic Alliance’s Dianne Kohler-Barnard laid criminal charges relating to the possession and distribution of the allegedly illegal tape recordings, against Hulley and Fraser on Thursday.

Kohler-Barnard said she had laid charges in terms of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication Related Information Act 70 of 2002.

‘In terms of Sections 2 and 49(1) of the Act, no person may intercept, or authorise or procure any other person to intercept any communication except in certain limited circumstances,” she said.

Hulley dismissed the DA’s move as ”ill-informed and ludicrous”.

The NIA, which was called on by the NPA to verify transcripts of the tapes, has strongly denied that they were leaked to the Zuma camp by Fraser.

The Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence has confirmed that it is probing how the tapes got to Zuma, as well as whether the NIA was acting within the law when it intercepted the calls.

The tapes of alleged conversations between former NPA chief Bulelani Ngcuka and Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy showed alleged political interference in the NPA when it dealt with the Zuma case.