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Greece to Tighten Intelligence Service Control After Wiretapping Scandal

Greece Intelligence service wiretapping
Syntagma Square, Athens. Credit: Public Domain

The conservative government in Greece is proposing a new law to tighten checks on the country’s intelligence service following the wiretapping scandal that has rocked the nation.

The draft law which was posted online for public consultation on Tuesday aims to update the process of lifting the confidentiality of communications and to optimize operations of the Greek National Intelligence Service (EYP), according to the Ministry of Justice.

The conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is under extreme pressure from the opposition to explain why EYP wiretapped the mobile phone of socialist leader Nikos Androulakis with the illegal software called Predator.

Mitsotakis has refused to divulge the reasons in public and said that the surveillance was legal. He added, however, that if he had known, he would not have authorized it.

Wiretapping of dozens of public figures in Greece

More recently, the wiretapping scandal in Greece took on a new dimension after the newspaper Documento published in early November a list of thirty-three politicians, businessmen, and journalists who were allegedly under surveillance by the country’s intelligence services.

The list included Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, former Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, former Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis, and a number of businessmen and journalists.

The Greek government has denied that EYP has put these people under surveillance and insists that, if they were wiretapped, someone else is responsible.

The wiretapping scandal has caused an outcry with opposition parties calling for snap elections.

The new law under consultation includes the following provisions:

  • Stricter penalties for the use of illegal spyware. Using software such as the Predator would be upgraded from misdemeanor to felony.
  • Possession and sale of illegal software will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor and punishable by one to five years in prison.
  • EYP will be able to procure spy software under conditions to be determined by a presidential decree of the co-competent ministers and upon approval by the Council of State (Greece’s supreme court).
  • The individual under surveillance will regain the right to be informed upon his request. That right was abolished in 2021.
  • But EYP would only provide information to the individual three years after the surveillance is stopped and only if national security is not compromised.
  • Surveillance of politicians can only take place after both the speaker of Parliament and two public prosecutors approve.
  • The content of surveillance, such as audio files, will automatically be deleted after six months from the end of the operation while the file with the documentation material will be preserved for ten years.

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