Saturday, February 9, 2008

Unbelievable

Le Nouvel Obs has published verbatim SMS exchanges between Kerviel and his alleged accomplice Moussa Bakir. It takes one's breath away to think that these two thirty-somethings, who sound more like 14-year-olds, were gambling with 70 billion dollars worth of the bank's money.

The report indicates that the investigating magistrate (van Ruymbeke) is "intrigued" by the presence of a Koran in Kerviel's apartment. Definitely a sign of a dangerous person: I have several Korans in my library, along with many shelves of books on Islam. I'm not quite sure what relevance the good judge sees. And I note that Le Nouvel Obs now seems to be making a habit of publishing SMS exchanges (the reporter, Airy Routier, is the same in both cases). Sarkozy has sued them for publishing one purporting to be his. How does the magazine obtain these? I find it worrisome. A good deal of ire has been directed at Sarko for bringing a case against the magazine under criminal law rather than civil invasion of privacy, but few voices have been heard complaining about the ethical standards of the journalists involved in obtaining or fabricating messages that have no business being in the public eye and whose disclosure serves no public good.

Thanks to kjs for the tip.

4 comments:

Mary Fernandez said...

There was a similar case in Britain last year or the year before where a tabloid (News of the World?) got access to private information about a young royal (Wills and/or Harry) and an MP in two separate incidents. It turned out that a 'reporter' obtained the password to their respective cellphones and then accessed their voicemail for stories. This could work for sms as well if you are checking your account from the computer.

You'd think Sarko would have a scrambled & encrypted phone, but Cecilia probably wouldn't. Besides, she'd probably be happy to share the message after all the little vengeful slaps he took at her.

I think Sarkozy is only adding more credibility to the story.

Marc Pasturel said...

Art, re: your slightly cynical comment about the judge's reaction to the presence of the Koran in Kerviel's apartment.

I can see where you're coming from; I count many Moslems as my friends, and I also own a copy of The Koran.

But would you reconsider your remark in view of the fact that Moussa Bakir is (in all likelihood) of Moslem origin and the judge/police think it's their duty to investigate a possible terrorist connection?

I'm the first to deplore it.
But isn't this now a fact of life that Moslem extremists have brought upon us ?
Marc

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Marc,
The investigative powers granted to the justice system under the law are a necessary enforcement tool, but they must be used with discretion. An investigation will turn up many things about a person's activities, some of which will prove relevant to the prosecution but many of which will not. It's entirely proper for investigators to consider every hypothesis and chase down every lead. But their findings should not be made public until they're prepared to bring a case in court and subject that case to challenge by the defense. Daniel Bouton charged immediately after Kerviel's exposure that he was a "terrorist." This is one of the most incendiary charges that can be made against anyone in our society today, for the reasons you mention. If such charges can be proven, let them be made in due course in court. In a meanwhile, contents of the man's house that have no direct link to his trading in stock options shouldn't be leaked to the press as inuendo to color his image.

Even in court, I sometimes think this kind of information is irrelevant and inappropriate. I recall a case in Massachusetts where a prominent doctor of German descent was tried for the murder of his wife. In the course of the trial the prosecution made an issue of the fact that he had a copy of Mein Kampf in his library. So do I. I don't see that it has any bearing on my potential to commit murder.

Clem, Paris said...

Just one precision

The exchanges between Kerviel and Bashir published by Le Nouvel Obs come from communications they had through their Reuters terminal.

Bashir is now free after having been interrogated by the Police.