Opposition politician ‘ignorant’ of Greek PM’s phone tapped


Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday he was unaware that the country’s intelligence services had tried to tap the mobile phone of an opposition politician and insisted he would not have it. not allowed if he had known.

The wiretapping scandal led to the resignation of Panagiotis Kontoleon, head of the National Intelligence Service (EYP), and Grigoris Dimitriadis, secretary general of the prime minister’s office.

Nikos Androulakis, leader of Pasok, Greece’s third political party – who is also a member of the European Parliament – revealed last week that his phone had been tapped by the EYP.

In a televised address on Monday, the Prime Minister said: “What happened was not illegal but it was a mistake. I didn’t know that and obviously I would never have allowed it.

He said he would propose changes to the way the intelligence service works, adding that the EYP had underestimated the political consequences of its actions.

The Friday resignation of Dimitriadis, who is also Mitsotakis’ nephew, and EYP leader Kontoleon, came after the Prime Minister’s Office said the EYP had taken “incorrect actions” in the “procedure of judicial oversight”. He did not specify which procedure was followed incorrectly.

Androulakis, who became leader of the centre-left Pasok in December last year, said he discovered there had been an attempt to bug his mobile phone using the Predator spyware when he handed it over to the European Parliament’s cybersecurity service.

The highly sophisticated surveillance system accesses encrypted messages such as WhatsApp and can activate a phone’s camera and microphone.

Speaking on Greek TV on Friday, Androulakis said: “I didn’t expect the Greek government to spy on me using the darkest practices.”

He filed a complaint with Greek Supreme Court prosecutors detailing the attempted wiretap.

EYP leader Panagiotis Kontoleon attends a session of the Greek parliament last month © Alexander Beltes/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The EYP was placed under the direct control of Mitsotakis’ office soon after he became prime minister in the summer of 2019 when his center-right New Democracy party won the election.

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch politician leading a European Parliament inquiry into the use of spyware in Europe, said her “hunch” was that the Greek wiretapping allegations were “probably only only the tip of the iceberg”.

MEPs in the European Parliament have investigated the use of spyware in Hungary, Poland and Spain, where members of the Madrid government and the Catalan separatist movement have been victims of spyware hacks.

In ‘t Veld said it expected revelations about Greece based on research it had already conducted and would put forward a proposal to add it to the list of countries under investigation. an investigation, which she hoped would receive broad support.

Alexis Tsipras, the former prime minister and leader of the left-wing opposition Syriza party, said the wiretaps were Greece’s ‘own Watergate’ that insulted democracy and called on Mitsotakis to reveal which other politicians and journalists had been wiretapped.

According to MPs present at the session, Kontoleon admitted during a closed parliamentary session on July 29 that his service had spied on Greek financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis after a request from another country. Greek government officials later denied that Kontoleon admitted to allegedly spying. Koukakis, who has previously contributed to the Financial Times, has taken legal action.

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