This post is also available in: enEnglish

This post is a specific breakdown of the ashram’s claims about Edward J Primeau’s testimony and analysis. For the article about the alleged video “morphing” itself see here. For a critical look on SUN TV ex-COO Hansraj Saxena’s  alleged “confession” that it was morphed, see here. We will use screenshots as much as possible, as we do not want to improve the org’s ill-gotten SEO by providing them backlinks.  We request you to search for the resources we quote yourself if you want the file or link itself. 

Followers of Nithyananda are repeatedly claiming that the Nithyananda – Ranjitha sex video was morphed.

To support their claim they have engaged a private analyst in the US by the name of Edward J. Primeau to provide his assessment. He provided his client, the Nithyananda Life Bliss Foundation, a report. He has also subsequently made a video statement that is published on the Nithyananda Truth (sic) Youtube channel. This guy really provides a great service to his clients!

However, any discerning person will immediately see flaws in his “testimony”.

Primeau Immediately Starts Off on the Wrong Foot

First, he declares that he has obtained the video from Life Bliss Foundation. An organization of the accused, Swami Nithyananda, this presents numerous subsequent conflicts of interest. Mr. Primeau is analyzing a video that has come from an entity based abroad, with a vested interest in proving the video fake, who are also experienced in video editing, while also pertaining to a case that is not local.

As if this wasn’t already ill-advised, Mr. Primeau then goes on to contradict the entire basis of his analysis when he says:

When I am brought in to examine a piece of video evidence prior to testifying in court, I have access to the complete original video, as it was recorded, the equipment that was used to make the video, as well as the audio portion of the video, so that I can determine whether or not the video is real and true. The video that  was provided by the Life Bliss Foundation has several anomalies that I would like to point out.”.

That quote is the key to unravelling the Life Bliss Foundation’s PR spin. We’ll get to why in a moment. 

The Nithyananda representative in the video goes on to ask him whether there were any signs of alteration or tampering in the video he examined. He talks about a flickering effect as well as the lack of audio. From his written report, we summarize the red flags he identified in that particular file given to him by the Life Bliss Foundation (Video2010.ASFbelow: 

  • He detects editing in that particular file both visually and electronically
  • That particular file is only a clip of a larger video 
  • There appeared to be video images layered on top of one another in that particular file 
  •  There is an unusual flickering near the TV in that particular file that he cannot identify the source of
  • He finds the aspect ratio of that particular file unusual: 704×496
  • That particular file ended abruptly
  • That particular file has no audio. He believes all spy video cameras come with audio, there is no reason for it to be left out. 
  • He compared the particular file he was given with the various versions of spoofs of it on the internet

 Now, let’s summarize our response point by point, and then we’ll substantiate some of them further sections, followed by points made by the renowned expert P Chandrasekharan against Primeau’s logical excesses. 

  • He may have detected such compositing effects in the file he was given. There were no such issues in files sourced from a proper chain of custody by the CID.
  • Even on the poorest quality videos we examined, the “flickering” looks like a device with red and green LED lights. The flickering is restricted to that small object and it is consistent.
  • The resolution of that particular video is 704×496. And even if it was so for the original,  many cheap camera devices and spy cameras, especially those made in China and India, come in unusual and older resolutions. 
  • He uses lack of audio as a clinching red flag. We agree that audio is a useful tool for corroborating authenticity. However it is far from a be-all-and-end-all of forensic analysis in the way he, or at least the Nithya Sangha’s version of his testimony, seems to claim. We actually wondered why he seemed so annoyed that the video did not have an audio track as video analysis can certainly be performed without audio tracks. Is it because as his resume seems to imply, he has a specialization towards audio analysis? Surely a forensic expert has encountered CCTV footage and cheap nanny cams that do not come with the luxury of audio? Yet Mr. Primeau is using the lack of audio as a primary basis to allege that the characters in the video might have been morphed into it. To make such a wild jump shows gross bias, as the only other explanation for such a wild claim is a lack of analysis expertise.

    Since Mr.Primeau was aware of his own specialization, preferences and regard for his reputation, to even take on such a job of solely video analysis from such a suspicious source is questionable at best. However, once taken on, to then assess the video as contentious, simply because the copy he received did not have audio, would indicate he was not impartial in his resulting poor assessment.

  • What scientific or legal validity does a conclusion drawn from comparing that particular file with similar versions on the internet have?

Even if we were to give him full benefit of the doubt, surely someone so experienced in law enforcement would realize that his client could take his testimony out of context in a foreign country where he has little power to stop them?  

 

 

Back to Mr. Primeau and his self-contradicting statements. In his video, on YouTube, he makes the following statement thus showing that any comments he has allegedly made regarding the video must be completely without foundation:

The only way to determine if that [tampering of the video to create events that did not occur] is true or not, is to have access to and be able to examine the original, the equipment that created the original as well as the original digital file.

To summarize the above quote and the rest of his testimony, Mr. Primeau admits that:

  1. The only way to determine tampering is to have access to original video media and equipment that created it
  2. He does not have access to either the original video media, nor the equipment that created it
  3. The clip he received is only a small part of the entire video, the rest of which he does not have access to
  4. This clip was provided to him directly by the Life Bliss Foundation, a conflict of interest
  5. Even the clip itself has a broken chain of custody
  6. The clips he received and the others he reviewed on his own volition on the internet were full of obvious graphical additions and alterations, as well as different metadata but he does not know if these are present on the original tape (ed: none of these were noted on the authentic tapes the FSL and others analyzed)
  7. The clips he received have no audio, and he finds that this stops him from making a proper evaluation of the tape as well as personally considering it a big red flag
  8. He is speaking specifically about these clips, and cannot comment objectively on the source of the tape

.. how can Mr. Primeau then ethically make any valid assessment of the file he received from Life Bliss Foundation as to whether the original video that he has no access to, had any tampering? 

However, on further examining his views and the specific videos he’s talking about, one can clearly see either the ignorance (his) or malice (nithyananda) that resulted in this situation.

His written testimony is revealing and egregious, and enables his clients to misinterpret his analysis, though we are open to the possibility that this was unintentional. He correctly discovers that the video he has been given is a ridiculous piece of work. But then he then misses the obvious conclusion and then overextends his reach by implying, or allowing/enabling his client to imply, that this is true of the original video as well. He bases it on the points as stated above i.e  the lack of an audio track on the file received from Life Bliss Foundation, along with egregious speculation on anomalies and artefacts on their entirely non-authenticated video, by his own admission. 

He passed judgment without evidence and stated a mere conjecture: “I think the reason the audio track was left off of this video is that the characters in the video were not all together at the same time and audio would have revealed that”.

Well, we have great news for those wanting the truth. The source files provided long ago to the Indian CID, and through them the FSL and Penrod Ellis have been authenticated. These files followed a provable chain of custody, which is why they were admissible into the local indian courts to begin with. 

Findings have come back that the video is, in fact, authentic and that the man in the video is indeed Paramahamsa Nithyananda (as he calls himself). 

This despite repeated false claims by Nithyananda’s followers that the video has been morphed, actual experts have found it not to be morphed. 

The Nithyananda organization has obfuscated the truth by having videos from Youtube and other sources, with purposely haphazard edits and video corruption added, analyzed by four foreign experts including Primeau, and then presenting their observations on these non-authentic videos as proof that the original is faked. Yet those were never the videos that were admitted to the Indian courts by the CID. The videos admitted by the CID are in their original format, they have the original device of recording in their custody as well as the people responsible for making it. 

We have exposed this duplicity in a separate article here

For now, compare below the reports by Penrod Ellis and the FSL, with Primeau’s statements in his written report. 

On the other hand, to give you just some background, here is Dr. P Chandra Sekharan, who has no connection to either party and examined the video as a third-party on the request of a devotee (now ex-devotee) who trusted his expertise. He:

  • is President of Forensics International
  • Has 55 years experience as the foremost forensic expert in India
  • His experience includes consultancy, teaching, research, and training in the field of forensic sciences
  • and has also appeared as Expert Witness for Prosecution, Defence as well as Court witness in India, UK, Singapore, and Colombo
  • Is also the first and only Forensic Scientist thus far to receive the second higher civilian award “Padma Bhushan” from the President of India during the millennium year [2000]
  • And is the only forensic scientist who was awarded ‘Emeritus Fellowship’ by the University Grant Commission (UGC), Government of India
  • And is a Fellow of  the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute

Cabinet Secretariat, New Delhi and Head of the Counter-Terrorism Division of R & AW, Mr. B Raman said of Prof Dr. P. Chandra Sekharan that

Prof Dr P. Chandra Sekharan is the ‘legendary Forensic Science Expert’

 

So let’s consider what this expert in video forensics has said about Mr. Primeau’s analysis:

  • Ending comments that Mr. Primeau and the CSFL have examined two different materials
  • Mr. Primeau’s opinion is “farfetched”
  • Mr. Primeau “could not have had access to the original tape”
  • Mr. Primeau “has exceeded his limit (as a so-called forensic examiner)”
  • Mr. Primeau “made inferences, and a (real) expert cannot make inferences”
  • Mr. Primeau has “passed judgment by recommending that the video to be excluded from any factual relevance to the events that appear to be happening”.
  • Even Mr. Primeau has said, “It is mostly the defense that is guilty of wasting money and complicating a case”.
  • And Mr. Primeau has said: “Many times the video evidence being submitted in litigation is good as a standalone exhibit and a video forensic expert is not needed”

As early as Dec 2, 2011, Dr. P. Chandra Sekharan, who has actual credentials in forensic video analysis, is quoted in the below excerpt speaking about Edward J Primeau’s Report on Nithyananda tape:

“The noted Indian Forensic Expert Padma Bhushan Prof Dr P Chandra Sekharan has commented that “the expert opinion of the American Audio Forensic Expert Edward J Primeau on Nithyananda tape is farfetched in as much as he could not have had access to the original tape. The original video in tape was made by Nithyananda’s driver Lenin Karuppan aka Dharmananda. This tape only can technically be called original or genuine. All the other copies made out in compact discs (CD) are only duplicates and many multi generated CDs were prepared from the first generation CD. The electronic gadgets the experts use to examine these CDs will certainly show signs of editing and other inherent defects of reproduction. Edward was right in saying that the video he had examined (obviously in CDs) are not genuine and authentic. (Ed: Just for clarification, Dr P Chandra Sekharan is saying that the copies cannot be called original or genuine, but it does not mean that the original is morphed because of this obvious fact.) 

“But he (Ed: Mr Primeau) has exceeded his limit and passed judgement by saying that ‘the video to be excluded from any factual relevance to the events that appear to be happening’. Where from then the events appear? From wilderness! An expert cannot make inferences.”

In fact according to Edward’s very own words, I quote “Many times the video evidence being submitted in litigation is good as a standalone exhibit and a video forensic expert is not needed. It is mostly the defense that is guilty of wasting money and complicating a case”.

It is indeed very sure that the American ‘Expert’ as well as our CFSL have examined two different evidence materials and not the same one in this case.

 

 

To summarize:

  1. Mr.Primeau declares that to properly verify any piece of media, he must have access to the original equipment, original file, formats etc. 
  2. Mr.Primeau, by his own admission did not have access to the original tapes or equipment, nor did the Life Bliss foundation who gave it to him
  3. The Life Bliss foundation as a client is a glaring conflict of interest
  4. The foundation provided him video from the web that was already altered/modified, potentially even further by them
  5. The actual evidence he offers for proof of morphing is extremely poor in quality
  6. The original tapes are much longer than the brief sections with Ranjitha, which are just snippets from it
  7. Both the tapes and the snippets with Ranjitha contained numerous moments where both people made direct contact and interacted in so many instances that it immediately refutes speculation on morphing and corroborates their candid nature. This is obvious from both a simple viewing of the video and an in-depth forensic analysis. 
  8. Both CFSL and Penrod Ellis (report available online) have certified that the original video is unaltered, as they are the only ones who had access to the original equipment, medium, file formats and authors. All of which are detailed in their reports. This is the video that has been admitted into court.
  9. Dr.Chandashekaran was a renowned award-winning expert who pioneered Indian forensics and was lauded by the heads of the CBI and R&AW. He was also a hero to Hindus in the late 80s, as he played a key role in the retrieval from London of the ancient idol stolen from the Aril Thiru Viswanatha Swamy Temple, setting an important precedent for restoration of Indian treasures. So the Sangha cannot claim he is a “missionary” as they do with all critics. He had no conflicts of interests in the Nithyananda case, and he weighed in on the request of a devotee and gave the clear verdict that the video is real. It  is hypocritical that an organization that claims to appreciate indigenous achievement immediately gives greater credence to foreign experts when it is convenient for them, even when its clear Chandarshekaran outclasses them. Dr.Chandrasekharan was appalled by Mr.Primeau’s conclusions.
  10. It is a bald-faced lie that aarthi rao was proven in court to be a lying conspirator. As detailed elsewhere, the US court judgement was only a default judgement against Aarthi, and there was no acceptance that the video was morphed because no evidence was examined. There is no court or agency on this earth who has said that Aarthi Rao is a liar or that the original videos are fake. Even a third-grader could verify this information competently. 
  11. The Nithyananda sangha has further put out “proof” of morphing by showing a side by side comparison of a certain small section, by laughjably doing amateurish morphing of their own, forgetting to account for a clip in the original where ranjitha knocks a fan  in the background, and conveniently leaving out the very next section of the clip where Nithya and Ranjitha interact with each other directly in the foreground (so verifying inadvertently verifying her presence and the video’s consistency). This “proof” followed their familiar format of blatant lying and exclusion of key information, which we will detail in another post. 
  12. The forensic drama around this video is a huge waste of time and a constant distraction. No forensic analysis was actually necessary. As many ex-devotees and Hindus have discovered, even a casual viewing of the whole tape and its aftermath forever removes any doubt about its authenticity. As Primeu himself stated as a general observation, “it is mostly the defense that is guilty of wasting money and complicating a caseMany times the video evidence being submitted in litigation is good as a standalone exhibit and a video forensic expert is not needed”. Not only is that true in this case as well, it is the main reason the sangha loves to harp on it. 

Considering these points, it is clear why it is so suspicious that Nithyananda keeps delaying the trial (please follow the public court records, rather than media or the nithyananda news site). If the evidence offered by his forensic investigators is so good, then there is nothing to be afraid of by going to trial, and in fact, he should want to get it over with as soon as possible. Instead, he and his team of expensive criminal lawyers (headed by CV Nagesh) find every opportunity to try to quash the cases and bully whistleblowers… for 8 torturous years and counting. What does that tell you about Nithyananda and the Ranjitha tape?