Greek ruling party lashes out at European committee probing wiretapping scandal

Thu, 10 Nov 2022 9:51 GMT
Greek member of European Parliament says news outlet publishing new revelations 'funded by Russians'
Greek ruling party lashes out at European committee probing wiretapping scandal

Greece’s ruling party on Wednesday hit back at the European Parliament (EP) committee investigating the country’s wiretapping scandal, while also questioning the veracity of latest revelations made by a Greek news outlet.

“We cannot and will not tolerate unfounded, slanderous, and offensive accusations against our premier, government, and, ultimately, our country,” said Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, a Nea Dimokratia (ND) lawmaker and member of the EP.

Her comments came in response to damning statements by Sophie in 't Veld, rapporteur of the EP’s PEGA Committee, which is probing the use of Pegasus and other spyware in EU states, including Greece.

In 't Veld, at a press conference on Tuesday, said spyware was being used in Greece in “a very systematic and large-scale manner, clearly as part of a political strategy.”

She also called out Athens for failing to carry out proper investigations and impeding the EP’s probe by refusing access to vital information.

Asimakopoulou rejected the Dutch rapporteur’s remarks, saying they do not reflect the views of the entire PEGA Committee.

During the press conference, in 't Veld also referred to information recently published by the Greek news outlet Documento.

In reports released this week, Documento said 33 people, including three Cabinet ministers, pro-government journalists, and businesspeople, were illegally surveilled on the direct orders of Grigoris Dimitriadis, a nephew and close aide of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Asimakopoulou tried to discredit the reports by claiming that Kostas Vaxevanis, the owner of Documento, “is funded by Russians,” according to the Greek daily Avgi.

She said accusations against Mitsotakis and the ND were “based on personal or political agendas,” asserting that the government has been sincere in its investigations.

Earlier on Tuesday night, Development and Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis also accused Vaxevanis and Documento of spreading lies and “playing the role of the prosecutor” without presenting any tangible evidence.

Georgiadis was one of the three ministers put under illegal surveillance by the Greek government, according to Documento.

Anyone in possession of illegally obtained documents or information about me should know that it is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail under Greek law, he said.

Greek surveillance scandal

The spy scandal, dubbed the Greek Watergate, first exploded into the Greek public realm in August.

On Aug. 4, Panagiotis Kontoleon, then-head of the Greek National Intelligence Service (EYP), told a parliamentary committee that the EYP had been spying on Thanasis Koukakis, a well-known financial journalist.

Days later, Mitsotakis acknowledged that Nikos Androulakis, leader of the PASOK-KINAL opposition party and a member of the European Parliament, was also wiretapped by Greek intelligence, but denied knowledge of the operation.

Opposition parties blame Mitsotakis for the scandal and have called for his government to hold snap elections, something he rejects.

The European Commission and European Parliament are closely monitoring developments related to the scandal.

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