There is no “misstep” or “mystery” as Gardaí has backed Lisa Smith’s social media discussions with Islamic extremists, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
Lawyers for the former soldier have requested that her 2012 Facebook messages be invalidated at trial.
They argue that the conversations were unlawfully kept by the social media company, that they were shared informally with gardaí and that the grounds used to obtain a warrant to secure them were inadequate.
The data includes conversations with Islamic State (IS) propagandist John Georgelas, aka Abu Hassan, and Australian-born convert Robert “Musa” Cerantonio, who was convicted of planning a violent raid on the Philippines.
Ms Smith, 40, is on trial in Dublin’s Non-Jury Court for membership in IS and attempted terrorist financing.
Sean Gillane SC, Prosecutor, this morning gave his response to the motion in voir dire, or trial within a trial.
He said it has become a common feature in criminal trials, where prosecutors say evidence can be found on CCTV footage, phones, emails or Facebook.
However, he said the Data Protection Act then “resigns like a clove of garlic to a vampire” to say that that evidence cannot be trusted.
The prosecution submitted that the defendant had a business relationship with Facebook and that her messages were kept in this context.
He said that while Ms Smith needs to file a complaint against Facebook, the social media company could argue that she clicked a box agreeing to what they could do with her information.
Mr Gillane also said that Lisa Smith’s data was collected as part of a separate investigation by the FBI and that there was “no secret” about this being shared with Gardaí from police to police.
“It would come as a surprise, if not a shock, to any reasonable person in a democracy to believe that law enforcement agencies would not release information that might be relevant to the investigation of a serious crime,” he said.
Mr Gillane added that Gardaí in Ireland had obtained a warrant to obtain further records of Lisa Smith’s Facebook activities in order to “formalise” the matter and ensure the discussions were admissible in court.
He said that process involved no “misstep” on behalf of gardaí and that they had reasonable grounds to suspect that Facebook might have evidence related to their investigation.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, who presided and sat with Justices Gerard Griffin and Justice Cormac Dunne, said they would look into the matter and adjourned the trial until next Tuesday.
Ms Smith, with an address in Dundalk, Co Louth, is on trial for membership of the unlawful terrorist organization between 28 October 2015 and 1 December 2019.
The former soldier is also accused of attempting to fund terrorism by attempting to send €800 in support via a Western Union money transfer to a named man on May 6, 2015 for the benefit of the same terrorist organization.
She has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The prosecution alleges that she migrated to IS or was made into a Hegira to support the terrorist group, which established a caliphate.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/no-mystery-in-how-gardai-secured-lisa-smiths-facebook-messages-ex-soldiers-terror-trial-told-41407850.html “No secret” how Gardaí Lisa Smith’s Facebook messages secured said the terror trial of an ex-soldier