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MEPs urge Greece to do more to investigate spyware scandal

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

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

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

Another opposition lawmaker and three journalists were also attacked with harmful spyware.

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The committee’s rapporteur, Sophie in ‘t Veld, said that while no definitive evidence emerged as to who installed and used the Predator spyware on the Greek victims’ phones and why, “everything points in the direction of people in government”.

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

While Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was not aware of the operation, he said it was still legal for national security reasons, but gave no further details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Greek government has denied using the illegal spyware Predator, which allows calls, messages, photos or videos to be monitored 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] ministers themselves” are on the reported list of people under state or illegal surveillance, Tsipras added.

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