Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis denied that his government was wiretapping senior politicians, businessmen, and journalists during an interview on Monday.
He called the allegations aired by Documento newspaper that thirty-three people were targeted by spyware in his knowledge as “absolute lies, without any solid proof, and with no connection to the government,” during an interview on ANT1 TV.
On Sunday, Documento published a list of thirty-three names whose cell phones have been wiretapped by the Israeli-made Predator spyware.
The list includes Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and former Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Also named were Michalis Chrysochoidis, a former minister under both socialist and conservative governments, Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis, and his wife, former Syriza government spokeswoman and minister Olga Gerovasili. Alexis Papachelas, the executive editor of the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, is also said to have been targeted.
“I wonder if there is anyone in Greece who truly believes that I was tracking the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of finance…This is a shame and a disgrace,” Mitsotakis pointed out.
Mitsotakis: Paper must provide real evidence for wiretapping in Greece
Speaking of Documento Editor-in-chief Kostas Vaxevanis, Mitsotakis said that “he may prove to be a danger to the country if he does not provide real evidence to the justice system to substantiate the supposed ‘evidence.'”
Documento says Mitsotakis is personally responsible for wiretapping and referred to “those spied upon by the Mitsotakis system” on its front page on Sunday.
Mitsotakis conceded that wiretapping may have taken place, but it was not conducted by the country’s intelligence service (EYP). which is under the direct supervision of the prime minister.
“I never claimed that there was absolutely no surveillance, but that is very different from accusing the prime minister of actually orchestrating this surveillance,” Mitsotakis maintained.
“I don’t know who is doing the tracking—we need to find out, [but] it is certainly not the National Intelligence Service (EYP), which does handle malicious software—and I have no involvement,” said Mitsotakis before reiterating that Greece will be the first country to explicitly prohibit the use of malicious software.
SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras called on Mitsotakis to explain if the thirty-three people listed to have been allegedly targeted by the Predator software were part of an official wiretapping handled by the EYP in a question to the premier he tabled in Parliament on Monday.
Citing the fact that EYP’s operation is supervised by the prime minister’s office, Tsipras called on Mitsotakis to go before parliament and provide clarifications.
Meanwhile, Kostas Vaxevanis, an editor and journalist with Documento, visited the Supreme Court (Areios Pagos) accompanied by his lawyer to submit material relevant to the allegations. This was after Supreme Court Prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos ordered a preliminary investigation into the matter.
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.
“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.