Greek Prime Minister Says He Is “Not Aware” Of Opposition Party Leader’s Testimony

The Greek prime minister assured this Monday that he was not aware of the wiretapping that the intelligence services carried out three months ago on the mobile of an opposition politician, and insisted that he would not have allowed this illegal action if he had been informed.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who faces elections in 2023, made the remarks in a televised address to the country, three days after a wiretapping scandal saw the head of the national intelligence services (EYP), Panagiotis Kontoleon, resign. and Grigoris Dimitriadis, secretary general. of the Prime Minister’s Office.

“What happened may be in the spirit of the law, but it was wrong,” said the conservative prime minister and leader of New Democracy (ND), the main formation of the Greek right and which guarantees a majority in parliament.

The EYP reports directly to the office of the prime minister, an amendment imposed by Mitsotakis himself after his electoral victory in the 2019 legislative elections.

Mitsotakis said that the mobile phones of Nikos Androulakis, who ran for the leadership of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK, social democrat) in that period, were placed under “legal surveillance” from September 2021 and for three months.

The recordings were stopped “automatically” a few days before Androulakis won the race for the leadership of the party, the official said, without specifying the reason for the measure directed at the opposition politician.

“Even if everything came out legally, the national intelligence services underestimated the political dimension of this particular action,” Mitsotakis said.

“It was formally appropriate, but politically unacceptable. It should not have happened and it provoked negative reactions from citizens in the face of trust in the national security services,” he continued.

The prime minister also considered that the way this issue was handled was inadequate, stating that the head of the EYP was “immediately dismissed” and that the secretary general of the prime minister’s office “took strict political responsibility” by dismissing him. Yes.

On Friday, the prime minister’s office did not provide any reason for Dimitriadis’s resignation. But an official quoted by the Associated Press (AP) news agency insisted that it was “related to the toxic climate that had formed around him” and that it had nothing to do with the espionage action that targeted the cell phone. of the PASOK politician.

On July 26, Androulakis filed a complaint with prosecutors in the Supreme Court alleging that an attempt had been made to spy on his mobile phone through the ‘spyware’ program called Predator.

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The opposition politician, also an MEP, said he learned of the Predator espionage attempt after being informed a few days earlier by the European assembly’s cybersecurity service.

Androulakis was considered the favorite in the succession to the leadership of PASOK. Current leader of the third largest party in Greece, he should assert himself as the balance of power in the next legislative, scheduled for mid-2023 and if no party manages to guarantee the absolute majority that allows him to govern without coalitions, as the current one suggests the polls.

“I never expected the Greek government to bother me with these shady practices,” Androulakis said Friday after the layoffs were announced.

In April, journalist Thanassis Koukakis, an economics expert, said he had been told by digital rights group Citizen Lab that he had been under surveillance by Predator software between July and September 2021.

The Committee to Protect Journalists then demanded a “prompt and thorough investigation… to determine who ordered this monitoring and hold them accountable.”

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Greece’s conservative government has denied using the Predator, and Mitsotakis did not mention the journalist’s name in his speech on Monday.

The prime minister promised changes to the way the EYP operates, including more parliamentary scrutiny and internal changes to ensure “transparency, staff training and internal controls”.

Source: TSF