MEPs urge Greece to do more to investigate spyware scandal

The Greek government came under fire after it was found that the secret service was secretly surveilling politicians.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was unaware of the surveillance operation [File: Ludovic Marin/AFP]

A European Parliament committee investigating the use of spyware has urged Greek officials to do more to shed light on a phone tapping scandal in which journalists and opposition politicians were targeted.

Earlier this year, it emerged that Greece’s secret service, the EYP, was secretly surveilling opposition party leader Nikos Androulakis’s phone.

Another opposition legislator and three journalists were also targeted with harmful spyware.

Committee rapporteur Sophie in ‘t Veld said while no definite proof emerged on who installed and used Predator spyware on the Greek victims’ phones, and why, “everything is pointing in the direction of people in government circles”.

“We learned a lot but we also still feel that a lot of our questions remain to be answered,” committee head Jeroen Lenaers said after a fact-finding visit to Greece.

While Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was unaware of the operation, he said it was still legal on national security grounds but did not elaborate.

The scandal forced the resignations of the head of the EYP and a close Mitsotakis aide.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attends a parliament session on the wiretapping scandal [File: Aris Messinis/Eurokinissi via AFP]

Meanwhile, in ‘t Veld said Greek authorities did not make much effort to investigate the use of spyware.

“On the contrary, most relevant information has been classified,” she said.

“This matter must be urgently and fully clarified before” Greece’s next parliamentary election in mid-2023, she said.

Critics have also said the investigative committee failed to summon key witnesses, including Mitsotakis, his nephew and intelligence staff who handled the Androulakis wire-tapping case.

In ‘t Veld urged Athens to seek Europol’s help in the investigation “for at least the securing of evidence”.

The Greek government has denied using the illegal Predator spyware, which allows the monitoring of calls, messages, photos or video on the phone.

Prominent opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, a former prime minister, urged Mitsotakis on Friday to “stop hiding and give answers”.

“Political opponents, journalists and even [Mitsotakis’s] own ministers” are on the reported list of people under state or illegal surveillance, Tsipras added.

Source: News Agencies