The wiretapping scandal in Greece has rocked the conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis who is under growing pressure to reveal who-if not the prime minister himself- is responsible for tapping the phones of politicians and journalists.
On Tuesday the chief of the state’s privacy watchdog (ADAE), Christos Rammos, sent a letter to the house speaker, party leaders and the justice minister, regarding the investigation of his agency into the wiretapping affair.
According to reports, the letter said evidence was identified of legal surveillance by the National Intelligence Agency (EYP) following the lifting of secrecy of a number of individuals.
The leader of SYRIZA. Alexis Tsipras presented evidence in Parliament on Wednesday that the Greek intelligence services (EYP) were tapping the phone of former energy minister Kostis Hatzidakis and senior defense officials, including Chief of General Staff Konstantinos Floros, Chief of Land Forces Charalambos Lalousis and General Director of Defense Investments and Armaments Theodoros Lagios.
Tsipras said that the names of the above were handed to him after an investigation by ADAE on Tuesday and called for the censure of the government and the resignation of Mitsotakis.
Mitsotakis has maintained that he did not know that EYP was phone tapping, despite the fact that EYP became under his personal control since 2019 when he assumed office.
Even if he speaks the truth, opposition parties say that he is incapable of running the country if he is unaware of what intelligence services do on his behalf. Many ponder the question: Who really runs Greece?
Tsipras has repeatedly called Mitsotakis to resign and hold snap elections. The SYRIZA leader says that the country cannot go to the polls, to be held sometime after April, as long as the shadow of the wiretapping scandal remains.
The chronicle of Greece’s wiretapping scandal
The ever-expanding scandal exploded in Greece last summer, when Thanasis Koukakis, a well-known financial journalist in Greece, reported that his cell phone had been tapped with Israeli-made Predator spyware.
Things escalated after Nikos Androulakis, the leader of the PASOK-KINAL opposition party and a member of the European Parliament, also revealed that he was targeted with Predator spyware, triggering a parliamentary probe on the matter.
On August 4, Panagiotis Kontoleon, who then headed EYP, admitted before a committee of lawmakers that the agency was spying on Koukakis.
Days later, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis disclosed that Androulakis was also wiretapped but denied any knowledge of the operation. He acknowledged Androulakis had been under state surveillance (though not with Predator)—a move he called legal but wrong.
Mitsotakis was left with no option but to force Kontoleon to resign as well as his top aide and nephew Grigoris Dimitriadis.
On Nov. 6, the Documento newspaper published a list of 33 people who were allegedly spied on by the EYP on Dimitriadis’ direct orders.
They included Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolaos Chardalias, 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 Adviser Alexandros Diakopoulos.
Mitsotakis denied that his government was wiretapping senior politicians, businessmen, and journalists during an interview a day later.
He called the allegations aired by Documento newspaper that thirty-three people were targeted by spyware in his knowledge as “absolute lies, without any solid proof, and with no connection to the government,” during an interview on ANT1 TV.
“I wonder if there is anyone in Greece who truly believes that I was tracking the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of finance…This is a shame and a disgrace,” Mitsotakis pointed out.
A later report by the daily claimed that the EYP, which works directly under Mitsotakis, also wiretapped Chief of General Staff Konstantinos Floros, Chief of Land Forces Charalambos Lalousis and General Director of Defense Investments and Armaments Theodoros Lagios.
Documento publisher Kostas Vaxevanis said that the report on Greece’s wiretapping scandal makes it clear that Gen. Floros knew he was under surveillance and he cannot continue as defense chief. However, earlier in January, the government extended his tenure for another year.