The government in Greece is facing growing pressure over the wiretapping scandal, as media reports over the weekend alleged the intelligence services were orchestrating the surveillance of politicians and journalists.
The government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been claiming that if surveillance had taken place it was done not by government agencies but by “unknown” third parties.
However, the weekly To Vima reported on Sunday that Israeli-made Predator spyware was used not only by the National Intelligence Service (EYP) but also by elements of the Greek police in illegal surveillance.
The paper also partly revealed the identities of Greek senior police officers who were involved in the surveillance publishing their initials. It claimed that the wiretapping was conducted by an EYP secret office located in the Athenian suburb of Agia Paraskevi.
In a separate report, Efimerida ton Syntakton (Efsyn) reported that former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is currently the leader of Greece’s main opposition SYRIZA-PS party, was under surveillance during his tenure from 2015 to 2019.
The surveillance secured photos of Tsipras’ vacation in a yacht during the deadly wildfires of 2018 and passed them on to Nea Dimokratia (ND), which was the opposition party and current ruling party.
The images were published by pro-ND media on the eve of the 2019 elections to undermine Tsipras’ chances of being reelected, it added.
Narrative of the government of Greece over wiretapping “collapses”
In a press release on Sunday, main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, said that the report leads “to the collapse of [Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’] narrative that a supposed unknown private party was operating the malware.”
“Every Sunday, the revelations that are made public complete new pieces of the puzzle of the illegal surveillance and leave no room for doubt regarding Mr. Mitsotakis’ guilt,” the announcement stated. “Today, the newspaper ‘To Vima’ reveals that Predator not only operated in areas of the Greek public sector but that those operating it were seconded police officers, whose names and surnames are made public for the first time.”
In a statement responding to relevant media articles appearing on Sunday, government spokesperson Yiannis Economou dismissed claims regarding surveillance software and intrusions as “fanciful” and claimed there is no evidence for the accusations or any support.
He expressed the government’s support for justice’s efforts to fully investigate all aspects of the case, especially as members of the ruling party and government appear to have been targeted for surveillance, including the prime minister.
The wiretapping scandal in Greece broke last August
On August 8th, Mitsotakis acknowledged that opposition politician Nikos Androulakis was wiretapped by Greece’s intelligence agency but denied knowledge of the operation.
The scandal first emerged on August 4th, when Panagiotis Kontoleon, then the head of the EYP, told a parliamentary committee that the intelligence agency had been spying on financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis.
A parliamentary probe was launched after Androulakis complained to top prosecutors about an attempt to hack his cellphone with Predator spyware.
More recently, Documento published a list of thirty-three people allegedly spied on by the EYP on direct orders by Dimitriadis, including Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Deputy Defense Minister Nikos Hardalias, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis, Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, former Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, and former National Security Advisor Alexandros Diakopoulos.