Greece’s head of the National Intelligence Agency (EYP) resigned on Friday after a phone-tapping scandal involving a journalist and a politician.
The Head of EYP, Panagiotis Kontoleon, has submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister, “following wrong practices in the process of information gathering,” the Prime Minister’s office announced.
Kontoleon, who was appointed to the post in August 2019, will be replaced by Foreign Ministry Secretary General Themistoklis Demiris. Demiris is expected to brief Parliament’s ethics and transparency committee on these developments after the summer recess.
Last week, Kontoleon allegedly told the parliament’s Institutions and Transparency Committee that his agency was spying on journalist Thanasis Koukakis.
The victim of the tapping, Koukakis, told the media he does not know how he poses a national security threat as a journalist covering economy policy and the banking system.
Phone-tapping of opposition leader in Greece
The committee’s closed-door hearing came after Nikos Androulakis, leader of the socialist opposition PASOK party, complained to top prosecutors about an attempt to hack his mobile phone with tracking software.
Androulakis had his mobile phone scanned last month through a special European Parliament service, and the scan revealed a suspect link, which allows the hacker full and constant access to the mobile device, including to passwords, photos and contact folders, web browsing history, text messages, and voicemail among other things.
“Revealing who is behind such sick practices and on whose behalf they act is not a personal matter,” Androulakis had said. “It is my democratic duty.”
Androulakis’s allegation to be “examined thoroughly”
Androulakis has also informed the European Union bodies, as well as members of the European Parliament, of Predator illegal spyware on his mobile phone.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had contacted Parliament Speaker Kostas Tasoulas in the wake of Androulakis’ complaint, asking for the parliamentary meeting to be convened as soon as possible.
The government has stated that the aim is for the issue to be examined thoroughly and immediately so that no doubts or shadows are cast that would influence the political climate and public discourse.
Google warnings about the powerful Predator spyware
Researchers from Google’s Threat Analysis Group TAG recently warned about the powerful Predator spyware that is targeting Android devices worldwide.
“We assess with high confidence that these exploits were packaged by a single commercial surveillance company, Cytrox, and sold to different government-backed actors who used them in at least the three campaigns discussed below,” said Google TAG members Clement Lecigne and Christian Resell.