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Sunday, April 20, 2014

'Saipan Sucks' author known • Gov't starts investigation to pin the person behind the online campaign against Saipan

The Internet smear campaign that maligned Saipan has left its residents and web surfers puzzled on who could the author be.

As this developed, government authorities are now probing the identity of the culprit, responsible for the smear campaign entitled "Saipan Sucks: The Truth About Saipan" which appears on the Internet.

An official privy to the investigation said a suspect has been identified but his men are still working on the evidence that will support a case in court.

Investigators are studying whether the smear campaign constitutes a criminal offense known as libel.

Libel is a written form of defamation, a malicious imputation of a falsity that invades the interest in reputation and good name of a person or an entity. The requirement of publicity is indispensable so that a statement or writing may be considered as libelous.

The criminal offense entails civil liability on the part of the offender.

Alternatively, probers are also considering the filing of a mere tort case against the author of the smear campaign.

Tort, as defined by Barron’s legal dictionary, is a "private or civil wrong or injury resulting from a breach of a legal duty that exists by virtue of society’s expectations regarding interpersonal conduct, rather than by contract or other private relationship".

The filing of a tort case prays for damages against the defendant, which is to be awarded to the suing party upon favorable judgment and discretion by the court.

An email sent to the Tribune identified the writer of the propaganda as a former government official, but a government investigator refused to officially confirm whether he is eyeing the same suspect.

"It’s too premature to comment on that," the prober said. He refused to elaborate.

Any suspect may just shut down "all avenues of evidence" if the ongoing probe is publicized by the media, he explained.

The website — http:// hometown.aol.com/forgetabilia/myhomepage/profile.htm — not only denigrates Saipan, but also dissuades visitors from coming to the island.

It tackled an array of complaints ranging from the ills of politics and nepotism, corruption, exploitation of nonresident workers, and mismanagement of the tourism industry.

An excerpt of the website says: “Nepotism rules on the islands. Politicians run for office solely for the sake of being in a position to appoint their relatives to high-paying sinecures. In an election year such as this, campaign platforms are non-existent. Political campaigns in the CNMI are less sophisticated than a typical high school student council election in the mainland U.S. People don’t stand for anything other than a conduit for their relatives’ government employment.”

The site, which may be accessed whenever anyone uses the keyword Saipan when searching the Internet, actively urges potential visitors to the CNMI not to continue with their plans.

Several government offices and legislators said the website does not deserve their comment because it was anonymous and unofficial.

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