Answering allegations levelled against the Attorney General’s Department as to how it examined 8,600 pages data retrieved from Arjun Aloysius’ mobile phone within two days, Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda PC said yesterday “some illiterate people” were making baseless allegations, because in the retrieval process, the experts had converted the data to a “PDF” file and using its search engine the relevant details could be found easily.
In a special statement to the PCoI, ASG Kodagoda explained the process adopted by the experts in retrieving the data from Mr. Aloysius’ mobile phone.
He said when transferring the extracted data to a computer using a particular medium by experts, the data is then converted to a searchable and conventional PDF document which contained 8,600 pages.
He said that process of extracting, converting and downloading was done within eight hours.
The ASG said subsequently that PDF was searched by both the experts and the Counsel of the Attorney General’s Department for the purpose of identifying certain details.
“That is how 8,600 pages were scanned and details found within 48 hours. Not because I am a genius who could go through all those pages, obviously, illiterate people would think so, but literate people will know that it was done using the search engine of the PDF file”, ASG Kodagoda said.
He said he was of the view that it was the method they had used in gathering certain details which were submitted in 26 pages to the Commission when Minister Ravi Karunanayake was testifying
When Justice Prasanna Jayawardena wanted to clarify the fact that whether the PDF file could be altered or changed at some point during the extraction process, ASG Kodagoda said the PDF that was received by them was an uneditable document.
“Kodagoda can’t fabricate messages in Aloysius’ phone, and that has to be clarified, because some illiterate people are making false allegations, which only reflects the level of their literacy,” the ASG said.
When Justice Jayawardena said the Commission was not concerned about such outside comments, the ASG said, “No those comments matter because we are here to assist the commission only.”
ASG Kodagoda was of the view that it was about safeguarding his professional reputation from “illiterate comments”.
Senior Counsel Chanaka de Silva appearing for Arjun Mahendran said those submissions might or might not have been made elsewhere, hence, there was no necessity to be dealing with them at the commission.
The ASG however disagreeing with the counsel’s stance said he needed to be concerned about such comments because the Commission is the only forum in which he has to speak.
However, he also told the Commission that the method used in retrieving data from mobile phones would not be used for the laptops and computers because it was impossible to do so.
The ASG said there would be a cloned copy (copy of every data) stored in the hardware of such laptop devices after the extraction and therefore it would not allow to have a single PDF file of the material extracted from them.
He said they would have a mirror image of that cloned copy of the hardware for the investigations and they would do whatever was possible to retrieve the deleted data as well.
When questioned, the ASG said those extracted data would be available as a form of replication which was readable and he said the data could be copied to an external drive and given to the Counsel appearing for the individuals under investigation, on the assurance of protecting their privacy.