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Wiretapping Scandal in Greece: Paper Names Dozens Under Surveillance

wiretap surveillance system
The list of politicians under surveillance includes Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. credit: Bugsweep / Facebook

The wiretapping scandal in Greece took a new dimension after a newspaper published on Sunday a list of 33 politicians, businessmen and journalists who were allegedly under surveillance by the country’s intelligence services.

Newspaper Documento published a list of names whose cell phones have been infiltrated by the Israeli-made Predator spyware.

The list includes Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, former Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, former minister, under both socialist and conservative governments, Michalis Chrysochoidis, Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis and his wife, former Syriza government spokeswoman and minister Olga Gerovasili, and Alexis Papachelas, executive editor of Kathimerini newspaper.

Some of the names of politicians, the newspaper alleges were under surveillance:

Wiretapping Scandal Greece
Credit: Documento

Documento says that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is responsible for the surveillance: “Those spied upon by the Mitsotakis system,” it says.

“All that has been published in the newspaper must be exhaustively investigated by the competent authorities and especially Greek justice,” government spokesman Dimitris Oikonomou said in a statement Saturday. “There’s plenty of narration, (but) evidence is lacking,” he added.

Most of those on the list published by Documento have stated they are unaware of any irregularities with their cell phones.

Wiretapping scandal in Greece broke in July

The wiretapping scandal in Greece erupted in July when Greek socialist leader Nikos Androulakis filed a complaint with the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office, reporting an attempt to tap his mobile phone using Predator spyware.

The leader of PASOK-Movement for Change had his mobile phone scanned in June 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 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 said. “It is my democratic duty.”

The government has not said why Androulakis was targeted. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis acknowledged Androulakis had been under state surveillance (though not with Predator) — a move he called legal but wrong.

The European Parliament has also begun investigations into the wiretapping scandal that has rocked Greece. This week The European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (PEGA), met in Athens.

Committee Chair Jeroen Lenaers said that it did not find outright evidence of the use of illegal spying software by the Greek authorities, but added that Greece has to do more to thoroughly examine the complaints referring to Pegasus and other illegal software.

“We did not find outright evidence of corruption, or the kind of authoritarian practices we witnessed in Poland and that are reportedly happening in Hungary, but some more effort needs to be done to ensure transparency,” stated Lenaers.

Rapporteur Sophie in ‘t Veld was more critical saying that “we leave with perhaps more questions than we had when we arrived.”

As she clarified, “We’ve heard worrying reports of journalists feeling unsafe when they write about important topics, of the supposedly independent data protection authority being put under pressure, and of national security used as blanket justification for spyware abuse and surveillance.

“It seems that spyware companies form a murky web of connections that may also extend to public authorities, even though EU laws on beneficial ownership registries were designed to shed light on such information.”

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