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European Parliament Probes Wiretapping Scandal in Greece

wiretapping scandal in Greece
The wiretapping scandal in Greece is being probed by the European Parliament. Credit: Europarl/ CC-BY-SA 2.0

The European Parliament began investigations this week into the wiretapping scandal that has rocked Greece while a former minister told the prosecutor on Friday that his phone was also compromised.

Christos Spirtzis, a lawmaker for the main opposition leftist Syriza party, was informed that his phone had been hacked by Predator, and he has now reported it to the chief prosecutor.

The list of those targeted by the software also includes socialist leader and MEP Nikos Androulakis and investigative journalists, such as Thanasis Koukakis.

The PEGA Committee of the European Parliament, set up in May 2022 to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware, heard evidence on Thursday from Koukakis and Stavros Malichudis, who have both publicly denounced their tracking by spyware, and Eliza Triantafillou, who is following the unfolding wiretapping story.

Both Koukakis and Malichudis claimed that it was their core investigative work that seems to have led to electronic intrusions into their communications.

Koukakis noted that his surveillance would not have been placed in the appropriate context without PEGA’s recent inquiry on MEPs’ phones, which revealed that Androulakis’ phone had also been targeted. He also pointed out that EU regulation remains insufficient in terms of effectively monitoring and controlling spyware systems.

Malichudis noted that during the time of his being surveilled he was in contact with colleagues for the creation of an international journalists’ network that would look into refugee issues.

Triantafillou reportedly observed that official investigations into privacy breaches seem to move slowly while investigations into media leaks move much faster.

MEPs agreed on the need to urgently investigate spyware companies, pointing to the risk of evidence destruction.

They highlighted the negative consequences for democracy, media freedom, and freedom of expression.

They also asked whether Greece is heading in an authoritarian direction to which the guest speakers noted that journalists have experienced a negative climate for criticism of the government.

MEPs argued that EU citizens need more transparency, noted that the government has promised to quickly investigate the cases in question, and urged it to make faster progress.

The wiretapping scandal in Greece causes a political earthquake

Since the scandal erupted, the New Democracy government has said it did not purchase Predator but has admitted that secret services were “legally” spying on Androulakis.

However, the government has so far refused to reveal the reasons behind the surveillance invoking “national security.” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said he was unaware of the socialist leader’s surveillance.

A parliamentary inquiry committee set up to investigate the scandal has not brought any results considering that the former secret services chief and the Prime Minister’s secretary general, who both resigned after the scandal, refused to explain the reasons for spying on the Greek opposition leader.

Main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras warned on Thursday that those who invoke “confidentiality” to cover up crimes “face criminal charges.”

Speaking in Parliament in late August, Tsipras called on the government to resign over the wiretapping scandal.

Tsipras said that Mitsotakis not only knew about the wiretapping of Androulakis, but he ordered his intelligence service to spy on him.

He called on the PM to, first of all, reveal why Androulakis was under surveillance and, secondly, assume political responsibility for the scandal by resigning and calling snap elections.

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