[ISN] Pikoli's hacker 'willing to negotiate'

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Mon May 05 2008 - 00:50:52 PDT


By Karyn Maughan
Independent Online
May 03 2008 

A hacker is threatening to release sensitive documents stolen from Vusi 
Pikoli's computer to the press - if the suspended National Prosecuting 
Authority boss doesn't pay for their return.

Just days before Pikoli is due to fight claims that he is unfit to hold 
office, the former NPA head has asked the press "not to facilitate the 
commission of a crime by engaging with the hacker or any information 
that he/she offers".

The Saturday Star has learnt that the anonymous hacker has not said how 
much he wants in return for the documents and has indicated he is 
willing to negotiate.

Pikoli's attorney, Aslam Moosajee, however, stressed that although his 
client had strong grounds to believe his computer had been compromised, 
he "would not give in to attempts to extort money from him".

"We have reported this matter to the appropriate authorities, as well as 
to Dr Frene Ginwala (who is heading the inquiry into Pikoli)," he said.

Moosajee said the extortion attempt was "disturbing" but declined to 
comment on who might be behind it. He also declined to identify what 
documents may have been downloaded.

The incident comes six days before the much-anticipated first day of the 
Ginwala Commission, at which Pikoli will argue that his suspension by 
President Thabo Mbeki was motivated by the Scorpions' corruption 
investigation into Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Government lawyers last Friday stopped Pikoli from releasing documents 
detailing what he had told Mbeki and other ministers about Selebi's 
alleged wrongdoing, stating they would apply for parts of the hearing to 
be held in secret.

The Sunday Independent last week revealed that, on that same day, the 
Presidency had made Pikoli a settlement offer. Pikoli refused to comment 
on the alleged deal, under which Mbeki would consider lifting his 
suspension if he agreed to resign from his position.

Commission spokesperson Lawson Naidoo declined to verify that 
"substantial disputes of fact" between the government and Pikoli had 
prompted Ginwala to call for testimony from each side.

In a strange twist, it is understood that Justice Minister Brigitte 
Mabandla - whose bad relationship with Pikoli was the reason given for 
his suspension - will not take the stand. Instead, justice 
director-general Menzi Simelane will lead the government witnesses 
against Pikoli.

Earlier this week, in a response to businessman Hugh Glenister's 
Pretoria High Court bid to stop the Scorpions from being disbanded, 
Simelane stated under oath that the cabinet had not decided on the 
crime-fighting unit's future.

A day later, the cabinet approved legislation that would enable the 
government to shut the Scorpions down. Simelane insisted there was no 
evidence South Africans were opposed to the unit being broken up and 
rubbished suggestions that disbanding the Scorpions was aimed at 
protecting ANC members from future investigations.

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