ECROCHAT HACK: Rapper C Montana bailed as appeal over 'live intercept' evidence delays cases
EXCLUSIVE: AN UPCOMING British rapper is one of a number of defendants who have been released on bail since being remanded in custody after they were charged in connection with Encrochat hack investigations.
Rapper C Montana, whose real name is Arlton Lewis-Turner, was filmed being released from HMP Thameside last month with the footage published on Instagram.
Lewis-Turner, 30, from South Quay Square, Tower Hamlets, east London, was among 113 people charged by the Met Police under its Encrochat investigation, whose names were published in July.
He is facing charges connected to the supply of class A drugs.
However, Lewis-Turner denies the allegations, and has launched an application to have the case dismissed on evidential grounds.
FREEDOM: C Montana grins as he leaves HMP Thameside with a prison bag last month (Instagram)
In April Dutch and French investigators broke through the encryption of the supposedly secure Encrochat encrypted phone communication platform which was being used by around 60,000 people worldwide, including about 9,000 in the UK. They allowed police forces across Europe, including in the UK, access to previously sent and new real time messaging between suspected organised crime groups.
It led to hundreds of raids, arrests and seizures of drugs, cash and firearms across the UK in a series of unconnected operations. Of the more than 1,000 people arrested as part of the wider operation, many were not found in possession of Encrochat devices, meaning several of the prosecutions, are based on remotely-obtained message evidence alone. It has since emerged that many of those arrested were already on police radars or under surveillance before the Encrochat operation was launched.
Lewis-Turner had been remanded in custody since July, but was released following a bail application at Snaresbrook Crown Court last month.
Another Encrochat defendant on bail after being remanded in custody is Joshua Paige, 27, from Kent, who has denied charges associated with the importation of drugs, relating to an attempt to import cocaine from South America, into the South of England on a cruise ship liner.
BLING: Stills from C Montana's Big Rich video (YouTube/C Montana)
The case is being heard at Winchester Crown Court.
Bails are understood to have been granted, in some cases, due to custody time limits being reached as a result of delays to prosecutions taking place caused by an ongoing appeal over the admissibility of Encrochat real-time messages.
The defence in the case has applied to have real time evidence from the phones ruled as a "live interception" and therefore inadmissible.
They argued that as some of the messages were obtained in real time as messages were being sent, it constitutes a "live intercept," which is not admissible in British courts. On Monday, the judge in the case, which cannot be identified, threw out the defence application, but defence lawyers have already appealed to the Court of Appeal.
Lewis-Turner's defence has also lodged an application to dismiss his case, but this has been delayed pending the outcome of the Court of Appeal case.
At least four other cases have been delayed for the same reason.
The National Crime Agency (NCA), CPS and Met Police, which charged Lewis-Turner, have refused to comment on the delays while the appeal continues.