The Foreign Ministry in Greece confirmed late on Thursday press reports that it allowed the sale of the Predator spyware in 2021 to at least one foreign nation, admitting therefore that it was aware of the controversial software used to spy on Greek politicians and journalists.
The spokesman of the ministry Alexandros Papaioannou confirmed to Avgi newspaper that the New York Times report earlier is valid.
In an extensive report, the American newspaper under the title “How the Global Spyware Industry Spiraled Out of Control,” revealed that the ministry issued two export licenses to Intellexa on November 15, 2021, to sell the Predator. One of those licenses was for Madagascar.
It said that from spring 2020 Intellexa, which is run by Tal Dilian, a former general in Israeli military intelligence who was forced to retire in 2003 after suspicions of mismanaging funds, operated from offices along the so-called Athens Riviera.
Predator has been used in Greece against journalists and opposition figures. The government has repeatedly said that the spyware is illegal and that it has nothing to do with it.
In August, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ nephew, who had political oversight of the National Intelligence Service (EYP), resigned over the spyware scandal, although he denied any role in it. Mitsotakis also fired the head of EYP.
As the New York Times report notes, “the same month, Intellexa dismissed most of its Athens-based staff.”
Opposition press PM to clarify Predator spyware role in Greece
Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras accused Mitsotakis of “audacity and cowardice” during a parliamentary debate on the wiretapping scandal on Thursday.
Tsipras referred to a recent interview where Mitsotakis admitted that there was “a center” in Greece that handled the Predator software but denied any knowledge of who is behind the center.
“You said you didn’t know. You didn’t know but you gave permission to Intellexa who had the Predator to export it,” Tsipras told Mitsotakis.
He also asked Mitsotakis to confirm or deny reports that among those spied on by EYP through the Predator system was the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff Gen. Konstantinos Floros.
The prime minister denied again that the government has the Predator in its possession and added that he does not monitor Floros. Tsipras called on Mitsotakis to resign if wiretapping took place against the chief of the Greek armed forces.
The allegation that Floros was a victim of wiretapping was published last Sunday in the weekly Documento newspaper, which has almost single-handedly exposed the scandal.
The newspaper had previously alleged that the former head of the Greek Police (ELAS) and a senior judge were also under surveillance by the intelligence service.
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.
The opposition, which has called for a snap election, claims it is impossible for Mitsotakis not to have known the wiretapping of politicians and journalists, as EYP is under his direct supervision.
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.