Duo admit mistaken photo of alleged forger used in 1MDB video expose

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The two individuals behind a video confession claiming falsified documents were used in Sarawak Report's articles on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) on Wednesday could not give a clear explanation on how it used the wrong photo of an alleged forger in the video.

The chief of the non-government organisation (NGO) Pertubuhan Minda dan Sosial Prihatin president Ramesh Rao on Wednesday acknowledged that a mistake was made when it used the photo of a British railway station manager instead of James Steward Stephen, whom former Sarawak Tribune editor Lester Melanyi claimed was the web designer who falsified the information on 1MDB.

"Maybe I overlooked the photo, or maybe he (Lester) overlooked the photo. I don't know who put the photo in the video," he said.

"We were rushing, semua kelam kabut (everything was all over the place). I don't know who made the mistake."

He said that he made a web search for a picture of Stephen: "I searched 'James Stephen' and 'UK IT expert' because he was part of the UK IT community."

However, he contradicted himself when he said Lester pointed to one of the pictures and identified it as Stephen.

"We used that in the video," said Ramesh. "I've never seen him (Stephen) before, whatever he (Lester) says I got to accept," he added.

It also contradicts what the 49-year-old Lester told The Star on Tuesday.

Lester had claimed he did not know how the picture made it into the video, adding that "someone put it in".

In response, Ramesh said "Maybe I am wrong, maybe he is wrong. Lester's eye sight is not very good."

Despite the mistake, Ramesh insisted that the alleged forger, Stephen, was real, and showed a series of emails between Lester and Stephen dated July 3, 2015 as evidence.

"There has been a long communication between Lester and James Stephen which we can't reveal too much of, I will let the police handle it," he said.

Ramesh said he still believed Lester's confession was credible, and showed news footage of an interview about the Sarawak Report office in London.

The video showed Lester working on a computer beside Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown.

He said this was proof Lester was editing Sarawak Report articles during his employment.

When asked how he knew Lester was editing articles in the footage, Ramesh could not provide an answer.

Ramesh told reporters that Lester join him next week at a joint press conference for the third part of the video confession.

He said he would prove that Rewcastle-Brown bought Lester and his family flight tickets to London.

"Why must she use her own credit card to buy a ticket for Lester and his family? That means that he is important to her," said Ramesh, adding the tickets were not cheap.

Rewcastle-Brown confirmed in an email interview that she funded the air tickets for Lester's travels to London and had engaged him to work in Radio Free Sarawak on a semi-voluntary basis, "despite being widely warned in Kuching" against the move.

But responding to Lester's videos, she said; "Lester is making it all up."