Nelson denies US spy plane reports
Despite a detailed account out about the role of a United States (US) spy plane in the Tivoli Gardens incursion last May, the Jamaican Government is insisting that local law-enforcement personnel had no help from their American counterparts.
The fresh round of denials by National Security Minister Dwight Nelson come in the wake of a report to be published in the American magazine, The New Yorker, which quotes a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) incident report claiming that US officials had acknowledged that a P-3 Orion aircraft "assisted the Jamaican Government during the Tivoli Gardens operation".
The DHS incident report, obtained by the magazine through the Freedom of Information Act, claims that the aircraft captured several images while on a surveillance mission over the West Kingston community on May 24.
These images, according to the report which was also shared with The Gleaner, were passed to US law-enforcement officers stationed at the embassy, who passed them to Jamaican authorities.
However, Nelson, who was speaking to journalists at yesterday's post-Cabinet press conference at Jamaica House, said checks within his ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force have determined that those claims are not true.
"In discussions with the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force, no images and no photographs were supplied to the Jamaica Defence Force or to the Jamaica Constabulary Force during this operation. I have made absolutely sure (about this) prior to and since this report has been published," he said.
"The (Jamaican) administration is absolutely correct. The United States government did not, at any time, participate in the operations in Tivoli Gardens," Nelson stressed.
The police-military operation in Tivoli Gardens was part of an attempt to arrest then fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, who was wanted in the US on drug and gun charges. Thugs loyal to Coke had barricaded themselves inside the community and later engaged the security forces in a fierce gun battle lasting several hours. Seventy-three persons were killed in the operation.
Outlining the procedures under which a foreign government can fly an aircraft over Jamaican airspace, Nelson said permission would first have to be sought from the foreign affairs ministry which would then relay the request to his ministry.