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Society

Amnesty International Decries Greece’s Surveillance Laws, Phone Bugging

ATHENS – The bugging of cell phones of 15,745 people in Greece – including some government ministers and military leaders  – and those the government won’t identify in the interest of “national security” – intrudes privacy rights, said Amnesty International.

Investigative journalist Thanasis Koukakis, one of those whose phones were tapped by the National Intelligence Service (EYP) also said that Predator spyware was installed on it, the New Democracy government denying using the software.

He told Amnesty that it had affected his ability to work though, beefing up the security of his phone – although some spyware can get around defenses – and that he’s meeting sources in person instead of electronically or over the phone.

Amnesty also noted that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government banned the sale of spyware – which the government could still use while denying that it does, “making it possible to undertake the identical abuse that was at the core of the recent surveillance scandal.”

The law was also criticized by civil society, opposition parties and independent administrative authorities and Amnesty said that it “does not provide an effective remedy for individuals subjected to surveillance for national security reasons.”

It noted that under the legislation, an individual has to wait three years to find out if they have been the subject of surveillance, and they can only be notified on the surveillance measures and for how long they were targeted – but not why.

“The framework of the new law fails the tests of independence as two out of the three members of the committee tasked to decide on whether a subject of surveillance will be informed are part of the prosecutorial authorities that had initially authorized the interception of communications,” the organization said.

While the government had been able to downplay the issue, even threatening to prosecute those who reveal information about spying on citizens and others in the country, it has become a hot button topic for spring elections.

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