[Scroll down for updates] To be perfectly honest folks, I didn't see this one coming, consequence I think, of having shed many years ago the paranoia that almost every Venezuelan carries like a second skin. I thought I was safe in Central London. Until Monday morning, when some thugs most probably sent by chavismo and/or its boligarch associates broke into my flat and stole my laptops. They didn't take my wallet, money, valuables... mind you they even left behind one of their own rain jackets and a mobile phone. Frankly I don't know whether to laugh or cry about it. On the one hand, I have to respect the boldness of the men who carried out this action. I have used plural all along on purpose, for there is CCTV evidence of at least three men, totally unrelated to the residents of the building where I live, trying to gain access to it. Neither of them bothered to cover their faces. In fact, one of them spoke to the porter and tried to force his way in, in three separate instances, through the front door of the building, while another stood at a very close distance and laughed at the porter. I have got to interpret their boldness as if they purposefully wanted to send a strong message: "we came to your flat, we broke into it in broad daylight, and we can't care less about being caught by video cameras or be seen."
Another part of me is convinced that this is most definitely the work of chavistas. For only chavistas can break into a flat to steal laptops containing sensible information and leave behind so much evidence, such as their own phone. This reminds me of the typical Venezuelan "rambos" that make up the "intelligence" forces in that country: smash first and never bother with details. Guapos y apoyaos sort of attitude. But then, if they could do that, it is evident they are prepared to do anything, including re-launching a defunct British intelligence agency (MI-16) and "reporting" that "my house had been raided on Wednesday" (that'll be 48 hours after the fact).
My interpretation of events after two days is this: thug no. 1 manages to get through piggybacking on somebody exiting the building. He then gets in the lift, and makes his way in the floors above to the staircase. Goes down the stairs and opens the fire exit door to thug no. 2. Both of them were carrying rucksacks. One, or the two of them, then wait, in the staircase, until I leave the flat (I was at home at the time the first gets into the building). Thug no. 3, who is wearing running clothes, tips them when he sees me leaving the building. Door lock is forced with a screw driver, and they get into my flat. But then, something must have alerted them. Footage of roughly one hour later shows no. 1 outside the front door of the building, ringing the intercom presumably to no. 2, who's inside my flat. He tries that three times, but does not manage to get in. He rings different flats, alerting different neighbours. In one occasion he even talks to the porter, and says in broken English that he has a meeting with "John" in the flat next to mine. By this time the porter suspected something was going on. So no. 3 also tried the front door, once, and fails. They leave with exactly what they came for, nothing else.
I got back from a run to realize the mat is misplaced, and when I saw the lock noticed it's been forced. Went to the porter's office and reported it to the police. The porter then shows me footage of what had happened outside the front door. When I entered the flat with the police I noticed, by the door, the rain jacket of no. 2. The police officer picks it up and notices a mobile phone inside. He shows me some text messages, in Spanish, along the lines of "estoy en la escalera" and "llamame quando estes listo". The log shows a number of different mobile phone numbers.
They took only the computers, suggesting the order was "bring the laptops". It shows a level of discipline on the one hand, and the most absolute lack of common sense on the the other. Like foot soldiers. They took laptops, but didn't take backup servers staring at them (don't worry about coming back chaps, my stuff is backed up -much before you came- in plenty of places you will never be able to reach). They took laptops, but didn't take my phone, or my wallet, passports, documents, etc. So what to make of that? They spent about an hour here, which would have given them enough time to bug the place. However I have found no evidence of it, and a proper, professional sweep will be done in the next few days. What will happen right now is this: I am going to make "los tres chiflados" instant online celebrities:
Thug no.1: notice the phone in his hand, either that one, or another just like it, was left in my flat.
Thug no.2: notice his rain coat, something very similar was left in my flat.
Thug no.3: coming to alert the others.
I am going to then ask, both publicly and privately, my fellow bloggers, investigative journos, law enforcement mates and contacts around the word, and everyone else I can enlist, to help me get to the bottom of this. If I don't get killed first, which is a definite possibility considering the above, I am going to make my short, mid, and long term personal goal to expose whoever was stupid enough to contract such an incompetent bunch of half wits to do this.
UPDATE 21.11.2014: Further to the break into my flat on Monday, this morning I found four printouts of recent photographs of my children and myself, presumably taken from quite a distance, going about our business in Central London. The printouts were left inside the pocket of one of my coats, in my bedroom.
This new development leads me to believe that it weren't the laptops they were after, that was just a bonus. I take those pictures as an open threat, to my children and myself. I take those pictures as a form of terrorism. The message is clear: whoever is behind this wants me to know that my family can be harmed at their wish.
I shall take this as I interpret it to be. Yesterday I posted pictures of the three suspects (SEE ABOVE). Given publication of certain "reports" in a chavista rag in Venezuela (primicias24.com), I think I have a good idea of who is behind this. London's Metropolitan Police has been informed.
Only Tuesday last week I was at the Offshore Alert conference here in London, listening to Bill Browder explain how Sergei Magnitsky had taken the trouble to document every single thing the Russian State did to him, until his untimely assassination. That eventually led to the Magnitsky Act. Taking inspiration from him, I shall try to do the same: I will keep a public record of what is happening, and in case my family or myself perish, interested parties in the future -like Bill Browder- will hopefully take an interest and the Venezuelan culprits will pay the consequences of their actions.
UPDATE 27.11.2014: Got home yesterday to find a letter from Tbilisi. The sender used an address in China, you can imagine where this is going... So I opened the envelope, and there was another envelope inside it, containing four printouts similar to the ones left inside my flat after it was broken into last week. In the back of one of the printouts, a message:
Obviously the police has been notified, but I wanted to add a bit of comment on this new development.
On Monday this week*, blogs, profiles and documents started appearing online, in Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Scribd, Blogger, Weebly and even in Rip Off Report. All of them would contain allegations about me being an "internationally wanted criminal, drug dealer, extortionist, car thieve, and pedophile". They contain pictures of me and my youngest daughter (original and photoshoped) taken during a surveillance period spanning months. *UPDATE 21.12.14: the picture above refers to a letter containing threats sent from Tbilisi, one arrived on 26 November and another one on the 29th. Both envelopes contained a set of four identical printouts and hand-written threatening messages, and both were sent, via recorded delivery, on 21 November.
The "pedophile" bit caught my attention, after all primicias24.com, wordpress blogs, dodgy websites, and lately the very own uncle of my wife, have been publishing stuff about me being "gay, homosexual, having AIDS, being involved in drug trafficking...", mind you my mother died in 1983 and yet primicias24.com "reporters" resurrected her and put her on top of an alleged drug trafficking ring that "operated" between 2006 and 2012.
The pedophilia accusation is a new one made against me, but I remembered I had seen it before. Derwick Associates initiated a lawsuit against Banco Venezolano de Credito, Oscar Garcia Mendoza and Rafael Alfonzo in a Miami court in 2012-2013. Accusations of pedophilia made against Rafael Alfonzo started appearing online around that time. Alfonzo even got his bedroom bugged and a video of him sleeping was posted online. This was much before it was revealed by Pro Energy Services former employees, or the Wall Street Journal, that US Federal Agencies and New York City prosecutors were probing Derwick. Another interesting aspect is that, around that time, RaFa Nuñez, the self styled "white hacker" and former convict of Clean Perception was promoting Derwick online. Equally interesting is the fact that the person who wrote and has been uploading to Tumblr and other sites the ludicrous allegation about me being a "pedophile", appeared upset at the fact that I have a selfie with the Dalai Lama in my Twitter profile, given that he/she is meant to be an admirer of the Dalai Lama. Check what RaFa wrote to me in an email in May this year:
Como budista y veo que tienes al Dalai Lama en tu avatar, creo en causa y efecto. Estoy en contra de la difamación, arrogancia o venganza sin sentido.
UPDATE 02.12.14: the NGO Index of Censorship posted a report to their European Union-supported Media Freedom project about violations, censorship and needs of threatened journalists in Europe:
UK: Journalist's flat burgled, family threatened
11:45 Dec 1 2014 London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
London-based journalist Alek Boyd, who has written about corruption in Venezuela, reported that his flat was broken into on 17 November 2014. A laptop was stolen. Three suspects were filmed by CCTV around the time of the break-in, which was reported to the police.
According to Boyd, who is Venezuelan, photographs taken of him with his children were left inside a pocket in one of his jackets.
The image is similar to ones posted online by accounts impersonating the journalist. Boyd has been the subject of online harassment related to his work on Venezuela. He and his family have been targeted with allegations of drug trafficking, paedophilia and, in the case of his sister, of being a former lover of Hugo Chavez.
On 26 November Boyd received a letter from Tbilisi, Georgia, that had a return address in China. Inside, another envelope contained four printouts of photographs of his children, his wife and himself. On the back of one of the printouts was a handwritten message: “you touch the rong girl, you pedofil! You think no one can touch yours???” (sic).
Another envelope was delivered on 29 November, also from Tbilisi. It, too, contained four printouts of photos with the same message handwritten on the back of one of the pictures.
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