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Wiretapping Scandal in Greece: Police Chief Was “Under Surveillance”

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Greek politics has been rocked by allegations of wiretapping. Credit: AMNA

A new media report on the wiretapping scandal in Greece on Sunday alleged that the former head of Greek Police (ELAS) and a senior judge were under surveillance by the intelligence service.

The report in the weekly Documento newspaper, which has almost single-handedly exposed the scandal, says that the police chief and current Secretary General of the Ministry of Citizen Protection Michalis Karamalakis was wiretapped as was the prosecutor of the scandal, Vasiliki Vlachou.

The report makes reference to several new politicians and personalities whose phones were compromised by the Predator spyware, including Minister of Education Niki Kerameos and Government Spokesman Giannis Oikonomou.

Others on the list include the PASOK-KINAL MP and former candidate for the party’s presidency Andreas Loverdos; the close associate of the Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Parliament Giorgos Mylonakis along with his wife, Tina Messaropoulou, who is a journalist; and the head of the Economic Prosecutor’s Office, Christos Bardakis. Vassilis Andrikopoulos, the former head of the special office of the General Secretariat of the Prime Minister, who is also a special advisor to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in matters of development and entrepreneurship, is also on the list.

Documento and its editor, Kostas Vaxevanis, claim that the wiretapping scandal in Greece was orchestrated by Mitsotakis and his close associates in the PM’s office.

Wiretapping scandal rocks politics in Greece

The government 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 last 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.

Furthermore, the paper partly revealed the identities of Greek senior police officers who were involved in the surveillance. Their initials were published. To Vima claimed that the wiretapping was conducted by an EYP secret office located in the Athenian suburb of Agia Paraskevi.

The Greek wiretapping scandal, sometimes called the Greek Watergate, refers to the prolonged, en masse monitoring of the mobile phones of individuals who are prominent in the Greek political scene. This includes the president of the social democratic party, PASOK, Nikos Androulakis, the journalists Thanassis Koukakis and Stavros Michaloudis, and members of the government and close affiliates of Mitsotakis, among others.

On July 29th, the Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency of the Parliament convened. The Head of EYP, Panagiotis Kontoleon, also attended the meeting. Leaks pertaining to the meeting circulated in the media. According to the information, Kontoleon admitted that EYP was monitoring Koukakis and that this happened at the request of foreign services.

On August 4, 2022, the newspaper EFSYN published an investigation linking the then General Secretary of the Prime Minister, Grigoris Dimitriadis, to the company that supplies the Predator software in Greece. On August 5, 2022, Dimitriadis resigned from the position of General Secretary to the prime minister. Less than an hour later, the leader of EYP also resigned.

On Monday, August 8th, Mitsotakis made a brief statement on the wiretappings, maintaining that he did not know about the wiretapping of Androulakis and that if he had known, he would not have allowed it to happen.

The opposition, which has called for a snap election, claims it is impossible for Mitsotakis not to have known, as EYP is under his direct supervision.

Earlier in November, a European Parliament committee that investigates spyware use by European Union governments soundly criticized the Greek government’s response to revelations that it had placed independent journalists and an opposition leader under surveillance.

“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,” committee rapporteur and European Parliamentarian Sophie in ‘t Veld said at the end of a visit to Athens.

A Greek Parliament inquiry into the surveillance scandal opened in September, but the ruling New Democracy party blocked dozens of witnesses proposed by opposition parties. This includes the head of EYP and Greece’s Prime Minister, as well as journalists whose phones had been wiretapped.

In addition, the ruling party-controlled committee conducting the inquiry decided that all pertinent meetings would be held behind closed doors and remain confidential. The committee’s concluding report would likewise be confidential. Consequently, this raised concerns about transparency.

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