No denial from Athens that Cabinet ministers were spied on

Greece
Tue, 15 Nov 2022 7:37 GMT
Premier cannot know full list of everyone put under surveillance, government spokesman tells reporters about explosive claims.
No denial from Athens that Cabinet ministers were spied on

Greece’s government is not denying that Cabinet ministers may be among the targets of the government spying that has exploded into a scandal, local media reported on Monday.

As Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis repeatedly stated, the government cannot know the full list of those who were put under surveillance by the National Intelligence Services (EYP), government spokesperson Giannis Oikonomou told a press conference, according to daily Avgi.

When asked specifically whether the government can assure that Cabinet ministers mentioned in a recent list, including Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, had not been spied on, Oikonomou replied: “The institutional framework existing in the country does not allow the prime minister to know whether they have been or are being legally monitored by the EYP.”

Avgi also reported, citing daily To Vima, that the Israeli-made Predator spyware that was allegedly used in the surveillance operations was brought to the country in 2019 under the full knowledge of the Prime Minister’s Office, then run by the Mitsotakis’ nephew Grigoris Dimitriadis, who later resigned due to the spying scandal.

“There was a single EYP and Predator center that coordinated the surveillance of political opponents, journalists, government ministers, and businessmen, and this center was in the Prime Minister’s Office,” Avgi claimed.

The main opposition party SYRIZA-PS, led by former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, said the spokesperson’s remarks amount to an indirect confession of the illegal surveillance operations.

"It is obvious that Mr. Oikonomou today confirmed EYP monitoring of the Mitsotakis government’s own ministers. Mitsotakis' refusal to respond to parliamentary scrutiny shows his guilt. No innocent person would hide,” said the party in a statement.

Ever-expanding surveillance scandal

On Aug. 8, Mitsotakis acknowledged that opposition politician Nikos Androulakis was wiretapped by the intel agency but denied knowledge of the operation.

The scandal first emerged on Aug. 4 when Panagiotis Kontoleon, then-head of the EYP intel agency, told a parliamentary committee that the EYP had been spying on financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis.

On Aug. 5, Kontoleon, along with Dimitriadis, resigned.

A parliamentary probe was launched after Androulakis complained to top prosecutors about an attempt to hack his cellphone with Predator spyware.

More recently, daily Documento published a list of 33 people allegedly spied on by the EYP on direct orders by Dimitriadis, including Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Deputy Defense Minister Nikos Hardalias, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis, Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, former Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, and former National Security Advisor Alexandros Diakopoulos.

Opposition parties have been blaming 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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