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Surveillance of opposition leader was ‘unacceptable’: Greek PM

#Surveillance #opposition #leader #unacceptable #Greek

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis admitted on Monday that the secret service’s surveillance of the cell phone of the leader of the socialist opposition was “politically unacceptable”.

In a televised address three days after two key members of his Conservative government resigned over the affair, he said the surveillance had been approved by prosecutors at the Supreme Court.

But he added: “It was a mistake.”

But opposition politicians said the prime minister’s statement still doesn’t explain why surveillance had even started – or who else had been targeted.

The scandal flared up again on July 26 when Nikos Androulakis, leader of the opposition Socialists, told journalists about the attempted surveillance by the spyware Predator after filing a legal complaint.

Earlier this year, two Greek journalists took legal action, saying they were victims of similar attacks on their phones.

Mitsotakis said on Monday that he had learned a few days earlier that the National Secret Service (EYP) had started tapping Androulakis’ phone back in September 2021, when the opposition politician was already an MEP.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “If I had known that, I would never have authorized it.”

– ‘Endemic Disorders’ –

The surveillance lasted for three months and then ended automatically – in accordance with the law – in December 2021, shortly after Androulakis was elected to his party’s leadership, Mitsotakis said.

The decision by the EYP, the Greek secret service, to start surveillance was “politically unacceptable”.

Referring to “endemic errors” in the agency, he promised the EYP a series of reforms.

In response, Androulakis said the prime minister’s statement still did not explain why he was being monitored in the first place.

He reiterated his argument that “this is not a personal matter, but a question of democracy”. Androulakis has already called for a special parliamentary inquiry into the affair.

The main left-wing opposition party Syriza also argued Mitsotakis has still not explained why the EYP thought it was okay to take “such an unprecedented action”.

“How many other politicians, journalists or citizens were under surveillance under his government?” asked former Syriza Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

– concern for media freedom –

Mitsotakis raised eyebrows when he attached national intelligence to his office as one of his first acts in July 2019.

On Friday, the head of the EYP, Panagiotis Kontoleon, and the secretary-general of the prime minister’s office, Grigoris Dimitriadis – Mitsotaki’s nephew – both resigned over the affair.

Dimitriadis had been linked by investigative website Reporters United to the alleged espionage scandals involving both Androulakis and Greek financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis.

In April, Koukakis, a journalist specializing in financial affairs, went to court to denounce an attempt to hack his phone with the Predator malware.

In February, an alleged case of EYP surveillance by journalist Stavros Malichudis, a specialist on migration issues, was brought before the Supreme Court.

Journalists’ unions have denounced a deterioration in media rights in Greece.

Until Friday’s resignation, the government had denied any state involvement in such surveillance.

Predator, originally developed in North Macedonia and later in Israel, can access both messages and conversations, according to experts.

Androulakis said he learned about his phone being monitored after he used a special service for MPs to check their phones for illegal surveillance software following hacks with a Predator-like spyware called Pegasus.

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#Surveillance #opposition #leader #unacceptable #Greek

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