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Top Greek court orders probe into wiretap scandal report

Greece’s supreme court has ordered a probe into a bombshell report that more than 30 politicians, journalists and businessmen were targeted by state surveillance

By: EBR - Posted: Monday, November 7, 2022

Influential members of the conservative New Democracy party, potential rivals in any future leadership challenge to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, were among those targeted, the newspaper said.
Influential members of the conservative New Democracy party, potential rivals in any future leadership challenge to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, were among those targeted, the newspaper said.

Greece’s supreme court has ordered a probe into a bombshell report that more than 30 politicians, journalists and businessmen were targeted by state surveillance, a justice source said Sunday (6 November).

The editor of leftist weekly Documento which broke the story, Kostas Vaxevanis, has said he will testify on Monday.

The weekly on Saturday said the list of targets included former premier Antonis Samaras, current members of the cabinet and shipping magnate Vangelis Marinakis, owner of Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest football clubs.

Spyware known as Predator was used illegally in collaboration with technology employed by Greece’s state intelligence agency EYP, the newspaper added.

Influential members of the conservative New Democracy party, potential rivals in any future leadership challenge to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, were among those targeted, the newspaper said.

The government has downplayed the report as lacking evidence, but nonetheless called on judicial authorities to investigate.

Documento, which has close links to the main opposition Syriza party, sourced its information to “two people with key roles in the surveillance”.

A Greek parliamentary committee set up to investigate the scandal folded after a month, and critics said it failed to summon key witnesses.

The affair exploded in July when Nikos Androulakis — an MEP and leader of Greece’s Socialist party — filed a complaint against alleged attempts to tap his mobile phone using Predator spyware.

Within days, it emerged that Androulakis was under surveillance separately by Greek intelligence before he became leader of Pasok, the country’s third largest party.

Two Greek journalists and another senior opposition politician also claim to have been under surveillance.

The scandal forced the resignations in August of the Greek intelligence service chief as well as a close aide and nephew to the prime minister.

The Greek government has flatly denied using illegal surveillance software. It has admitted that state intelligence monitored Androulakis, without disclosing the reason.

Mitsotakis has promised to ban the use of illegal wiretaps by law.

But critics note that one of his first acts when he became prime minister in 2019 was to attach the national intelligence service to his personal office.

MEPs investigate

On Friday, a European Parliament committee investigating wiretaps in Greece and other EU states called for a deeper investigation of the case.

“I do not see… a vigorous search for culprits,” said Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, a senior member of the cross-party European committee which investigates alleged illegal use of spyware in EU states.

“The matter must be urgently and fully clarified before next year’s (national) elections,” she told a news conference following a two-day visit to Athens.

“Many of our questions remain to be answered,” added committee chairman and fellow Dutch MEP Jeroen Lenaers.

Critics said the committee failed to summon key witnesses including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, his nephew and intelligence staff who handled the Androulakis wire-tapping case.

“I would call that a very superficial investigation,” in ‘t Veld said Friday.

The Greek government has flatly denied using illegal surveillance software. It has admitted that state intelligence monitored Androulakis, without disclosing the reason.

Main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, a former prime minister, urged Mitsotakis on Friday to “stop hiding and give answers”.

“Political opponents, journalists and even (Mitsotakis’s) own ministers” are on the reported list of people under state or illegal surveillance, Tsipras added.

*first published in: Euractiv.com

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