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Greece to ban the sale of spyware amid wiretapping scandal

The move comes after a news report claimed that politicians and businessmen have been under state surveillance.

Greece’s government says it will introduce a bill to ban the sale of spyware following media reports of a state-sponsored wiretapping scandal that affected at least 30 people, including politicians and businessmen.

“We will not allow any shadow to fall over the problems that are poisoning Greek society,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou told reporters on Monday, adding that a bill would soon be submitted to parliament.

The move comes after the leftist newspaper Document published a list of people whose phones were allegedly infected with Predator malware. He cited two sources who played a role in the surveillance, allegedly on behalf of the government.

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On Monday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis slammed the allegations as “an unbelievable lie”, adding that the report was baseless as it presented no evidence that his cabinet was behind the surveillance.

Oikonomou said on Monday that the Greek state had not used or purchased any such spyware, adding that judicial authorities would investigate the latest report.

Document’s report was the latest development in a wiretapping scandal that has caused political uproar in Greece as the European Union takes a closer look at the use and sale of spyware. A Greek prosecutor launched an investigation earlier this year.

Most of the alleged targets, including a former Conservative prime minister and current foreign and finance ministers, declined to comment or told the newspaper they were not aware of the matter.

“It is disgraceful and disgusting for anyone to insinuate that the prime minister is monitoring his foreign minister. And extremely dangerous,” Mitsotakis said.

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“We are not sure who manages those centers. What we are absolutely sure of is that it was not EYP [Greece’s intelligence service]. And obviously I wasn’t involved.”

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In July, Socialist opposition leader Nikos Androulakis filed a complaint with high court prosecutors for an attempted hack into his mobile phone with surveillance software.

The government, which faces elections in 2023, said at the time that the surveillance, which was not carried out through disputed spyware programs, was legal as it had been approved by a prosecutor.

He never specified why Androulakis was targeted, and Mitsotakis said he was never aware of the hack and would never have approved of it.

A Greek prosecutor is also investigating a journalist’s claims that his smartphone was infected by surveillance software in a Greek intelligence service operation.

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