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Greek phone hacking scandal: key role for investigative media

#Greek #phone #hacking #scandal #key #role #investigative #media

Investigative journalism emerged as a powerful force during the phone-hacking scandal in Greece, shaking a government trying to “control” the media landscape, experts say.

The long-rumbling “Predatorgate” scandal reignited in late July when Nikos Androulakis, leader of the opposition Socialists, told journalists that Predator spyware was attempting to spy on his cell phone after he filed a complaint.

The spyware can hack into a target’s phone and access messages and conversations.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last week acknowledged that the secret service’s surveillance was “politically unacceptable” and claimed he was not informed.

He spoke three days after two key members of his Conservative government resigned over the matter.

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

Months of investigations by Greek investigative media have been instrumental in shedding light on the phone hacking.

Eliza Triantafyllou, a journalist with the Inside Story website, began investigating the case in January after two reports were released by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and Meta (Facebook) relating to a new spyware, Predator, with customers and Destinations in Greece related.

“These reports went unnoticed by Greek (mainstream) media at the time, although they revealed that the Greek government had likely bought Predator,” she wrote in a recent article.

Last April, Inside Story published “the first confirmed case of Predator use in 2021 against a European citizen” — Greek journalist Thanasis Koukakis, who specializes in reporting on corruption.

Investigative online news site Reporters United then reported that the journalist’s phone was monitored by Greek intelligence agency EYP in 2020.

Stories first published online by investigative journalists are now making headlines in Greek newspapers.

The country’s media landscape is characterized by the complicity of traditional media corporations with public authorities in line with political and financial interests.

The non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) gives Greece the lowest ranking for press freedom in Europe.

RSF and NGO Media Freedom Rapid Response said the ruling party is “obsessed with controlling the message” and “minimizing critical and dissenting voices.”

However, according to Katerina Batzeli, member of the Pasok-Kinal Central Committee, former minister and MEP, investigative media in Greece is “a hope for freedom of expression”.

“These innovative media took risks and did an extraordinary job,” she said.

Greek investigative media including Inside Story, Solomon and Reporters United have been on the rise in recent years, using subscriptions to promote “independent and analytical information”.

In the face of widespread disinformation, “investigative media dare to control power,” said media analyst Georges Tzogopoulos.

He said investigative sites had played a “key role” and called for crowdfunding support.

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