New York, March 28 (IANS) A Romanian employee of Cambridge Analytica (CA), who worked on its project in India, may have been “poisoned” in Kenya, an ex-employee has told a British parliamentary select committee.
Christopher Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica, told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Tuesday that Dan Muresan, who had worked on the Indian project, was suspected to have been poisoned in his Kenyan hotel room in 2012 after a deal went sour.
Wylie said that CA worked “effectively” in India with an office and staff there and “I believe their (CA’s) client was Congress”.
Appearing before the panel alongside Wylie, data protection expert Paul-Olivier Dehaye alleged that Muresan had double-crossed the Congress while working for it by getting paid by an unnamed Indian billionaire who wanted it to lose.
However, during the testimony videocast by British Parliament on the web, Wylie clarified his assertion about the poisoning of Muresan by saying: “I cannot speak to the veracity of that.
“This is what I have been told, and so I am not saying this is a matter of fact: people suspected that he was poisoned in his hotel room,” Wylie said.
“I also heard that police were bribed not to enter the hotel room for 24 hours,” he added.
Wylie linked Muresan’s death to his work in Kenya and not to India.
“When you work in Kenyan politics — politics in African countries — if a deal goes wrong, you can pay for it,” he said.
According to Romania-Insider.com., Muresan was the son of former Romanian Agriculture Minister Ioan Avram Muresan.
Dehaye, who is the co-founder of Personal.Data.IO, said Muresan worked simultaneously on projects in Kenya and India. He suggested that journalists from Romania, Kenya and India should collaborate to piece together Muresan’s and CA’s activities.
Wylie said he succeeded Muresan on some of CA’s projects, but did not know about his death when he joined the organisation.
Labour MP Paul Farelly, who conducted the questioning on India, noted that it was “tops in terms of members” of Facebook.
CA has been accused of illegally using data of tens of millions of Facebook users for political work on behalf of its clients. Farelly described India as a “country rife with opportunities for destabilisation”.
He said that as the “world’s largest democracy with lots and lots of elections all the time”, India was a prime source of business” and asked for more details of CA’s involvement there.
Dehaye said Muresan was “working for Congress apparently, according to reports from India”.
“But apparently, he was paid for by an Indian billionaire, who actually wanted the Congress to lose,” he added. “So he was pretending to work for one party, but was paid underhand by someone else. That seems to be the reports that are coming from India.”
Wylie, who came to the hearing with his hair dyed pink, said that besides the work for Congress, CA has “done all kinds of projects” in India.
“I don’t remember a national project, but I know regionally,” he added. “India is so big that one state can be as big as Britain.”
He said that he had some documentation on CA’s involvement in India and offered to share it with the committee. Damian Collins, the committee chair, asked him to provide the documentation.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])