CJ Politics

Jamaican’s Holness Admits United States Surveillance Help in Tivoli Gardens Raid

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - December 8, 2011

In a shift from earlier comments by National Security Minister Dwight Nelson, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness admitted that the government had accepted an offer from the United States government for surveillance and imagery assistance during the May 2010 raid in Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens.

Earlier, Nelson had said that the Jamaican government had not made a request for assistance, and that none had been given.

“The United States government did not at any time participate in the operations in Tivoli Gardens,” Nelson said earlier.

The revelation that a US spy plane took surveillance imagery of Tivoli Gardens came in an article by Mattathias Schwartz in the New Yorker magazine this week.

Holness said that the Ministry of National Security would not have had knowledge of the agreement, as channels would have been directly to the Jamaica Defence Force.

“The assistance provided was in line with the general agreements that we have with our partners,” he said. “There was an offer for assistance, we accepted the offer, it went through the normal channels, and being as we accepted an offer and we needed the facility, it went directly for approval through the Civil Aviation Authority.”

Holness said the operations did not involve foreign forces on Jamaican soil, telling journalists that some security operations can be sensitive.

“Some of the operations are not always in the domain of general knowledge,” he said. “You have to bear in mind the sensitivities of the operations.”

Jamaican authorities entered the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood of Kingston in May 2010 in an attempt to capture strongman Christopher Coke, the target of a controversial extradition process.

Coke ultimately was found and extradited to the United States, where he pled guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy.

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