The Greek wiretapping scandal took another turn for the worse for the government on Sunday as a paper published telephone conversations of a prominent minister who was allegedly spied upon by the intelligence service (EYP).
Newspaper Documento, who almost single-handily exposed the wiretapping scandal that has rattled the government over the last months, said that for almost a year, from November 27, 2020 to November 17, 2021, the then Minister of Energy, Kostis Hatzidakis, was under surveillance. His phone was compromised by the Predator spyware operated by EYP using the code 5046c.
Documento publishes a series of summaries of conversations and text messages of the minister with journalists and other ministers and officials of the governing New Democracy party. It says the summaries were drafted by EYP agents.
Among the published documents is a summary of transcripts is a conversation between Hatzidakis and a businessman/publisher who asks the minister to mediate in order to advance his proposed project on solar power installations. The name of the businessman has not been revealed.
Another document, dated January 4, 2021, summarizes the reaction of Hatzidakis when he was moved by PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis from the Ministry of Energy to the Ministry of Labor. Hatzidakis expressed his concern about the move saying he “does not know the area at all,” according to the transcript summary.
Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance challenged Mitsotakis on Sunday to reveal the reasons why Hatzidakis had been targeted by EYP.
“Following the incontrovertible evidence that Hatzidakis had been monitored by EYP, Mr. Mitsotakis must set aside the laughable excuses that make himself look ridiculous: he, who is responsible for EYP, was not aware that the service was monitoring his minister…”
Noting that “not a single Greek believes him”, the party demanded a clear answer that outlined what reasons of national security led the EYP prosecutor to sign at least six warrants for Hatzidakis’ ongoing surveillance, which continued for at least a year.
Under-fire Greek government over wiretapping scandal bans spyware
The Greek government has consistently denied that it used the Predator software to spy on politicians and journalists. It has admitted that such a system may be in operation in Greece but denies any involvement.
On Friday lawmakers in Greece approved legislation banning commercial spyware and reforming rules for legally-sanctioned wiretaps.
The 156-142 vote in parliament followed two days of debate, during which opposition lawmakers accused the government of attempting to cover up the illegal surveillance.
Under the new law, the use, sale or distribution of spyware in Greece will carry a penalty of a two-year minimum prison sentence.
Additional safeguards were also planned for legal wiretaps as well as for hiring the director and deputy directors of EYP.
Critics, including human rights groups and an independent transparency authority, argue that the changes followed a poorly-planned consultation process and lack sufficient oversight. Opposition lawmakers all voted against the bill Friday.
Earlier in the week, the Foreign Ministry in Greece confirmed press reports that it allowed the sale of the Predator spyware in 2021 to at least one foreign nation.
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.