Greece’s phone-hacking scandal never ends

The center-right government is accused of maneuvering to prevent investigations into alleged espionage against politicians and journalists

In Greece, there is once again talk of the long-running wiretapping scandal involving the centre-right government and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The case, which first emerged in the summer of 2022, concerns alleged espionage actions against opposition politicians and journalists. Today, the Mitsotakis government is accused of attempts to obstruct investigations: whether through the decision to replace much of the management of the body investigating the case, the Greek Communications Security and Privacy Authority (ADAE); And – according to the opposition – by putting pressure on part of the judicial authority.

Although investigations into the phone wiretapping case have been ongoing for more than a year, no official indictments have yet been issued by Greek justice. According to the opposition, the investigations have proven to be very complex, especially since the government is constantly obstructing them.

The investigation was opened later A complaint was filed by Nikos Andrulakis, head of the Socialist Party (PASOK) and one of the opposition leaders, who claimed that he had been intercepted months ago by the secret services, which in Greece depend directly on the Prime Minister’s Office by choosing Mitsotakis himself. Androlakis complaint This came on the heels of two Greek journalists who were spied on by the government: One works in financial news, the other deals with immigration. It was later discovered that over 90 people had been spied on, all through the use of Israel’s Predator software (part of the Greek press is calling the investigation “Predatorgate” for this reason).

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This case caused the resignation of important Greek intelligence officials and the Prime Minister’s General Secretary, who always declared that he was not only not involved in the operation, but also had no knowledge of it. In October, a parliamentary committee led by the majority New Democracy party reached the same conclusion, but investigations continued, conducted by the judiciary in cooperation with the Hellenic Communications Authority, an independent body whose directors are appointed by politicians.

At the end of September, the government (backed by New Democracy and the far-right Greek Solution Party) abruptly replaced much of the ADAE administration, taking advantage of deadlines for some appointments and changing the composition of the board. The newly elected leader of the opposition Syriza party, Stefanos Kasellakis, described the government’s decision as an “institutional coup.”

Nikos Androulakis, head of the Socialist Party, is among the first to report being spied on (George Kontarinis/Eurokinissi via AP)

This whole story has been complicated in recent days by the fact that the opposition has accused the government of exerting pressure on some parts of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court. The result was that the legitimacy of some decisions taken by judges at various levels on this issue came into question.

Various criticisms came, for example, last week, when the Greek Court of Justice indicted two directors and two employees of the organization on charges of publishing confidential information. The opposition said the court’s decision was further evidence of how the government is trying to intimidate people responsible for investigating the case. “It is an indication that the Greek justice system, which has so far done nothing about the use of spyware, is very keen to criminalize those who are only doing their job,” ADAE President Christos Ramos said.

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Furthermore, the Greek Supreme Court on Monday ordered the transfer of investigations from the office of the regular public prosecutor and Judges Angeliki Triantafilou and Konstantinos Spyropoulos to the Supreme Court. The official justification relates to the “alleged delay in the investigation” and the national interest of the case.

However, the order came after the two prosecutors asked the ADAE to verify whether the 93 people spied on through the Predator program were all on lists of people under surveillance by state intelligence services. In three cases, including the case of the Socialist leader AndrolakisThis correspondence has been verified. In the case of the full correspondence, the judges felt it would be easier to show how the use of the software was part of a program identified and shared by the secret services, which are controlled by the government.

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