ATHENS – PASOK Socialist leader Nikos Androulakis, whose cell phone was bugged by Greece’s National Intelligence Service (EYP) didn’t accept Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis denying he knew about it and said the government was trying to deflect the scandal.
Androulakis, also a Member of the European Parliament, said that Mitsotakis – who took to addressing the nation over the hot button issue – had “methodically avoided providing explanations,” media reports said.
Greece’s data privacy agency said it couldn’t detect any attempt to infect his phone with spyware or have his conversations monitored but Androulakis said the European Parliament’s research lab said an attempt was made to install Predator spyware in September, 2021.
He didn’t click on an attachment that would have opened it, the attempt coming three months before he took over the dormant center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) and resurrected its popularity.
“The Predator spyware was used to tap into my phone, while only a few days earlier I had been placed under surveillance by EYP,” Androulakis stated, adding that, “We would not have been aware of these dark practices had it not been for the European Parliament’s official report.”
EYP said it was done at the request of the intelligence agencies of Armenia and Ukraine, anxious to learn about his role on a European Parliament committee about trade with China but the Ambassadors of those countries denied it.
“The fairy tales about the supposed involvement of Armenia and Ukraine in my surveillance were debunked by their respective embassies in the most official and humiliating way for you,” Androulakis said about Mitsotakis.
Androulakis said he wants “(the) reason why I was under surveillance by EYP be announced forthright,” and said while Mitsotakis pointed out it was lawful, the PASOK leader said it was “in violation of the privacy of my communications as an MEP and candidate leader for PASOK-Movement for Change.”
“I will not accept any cover up, the clock is ticking against him,” Androulakis said, adding that Mitsotakis had attempted to “trivialize a key case for the separation of powers in our country,” the reports said.
He said it wasn’t personal but “a matter of democracy. It pertains to the anxiety of every citizen to want to live and raise their children in justice and absolute respect for human rights. I will continue the fight so that the justice system, the Greek Parliament and the European institutions bring the entire truth to light.”
PASOK is the country’s third-largest political party and was for decades the main political rival of New Democracy although the former Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos brought into a coalition as a junior partner serving the Conservatives.
Androulakis filed a complaint with prosecutors at Greece’s Supreme Court on July 26 saying there had been an attempt to bug his cellphone with the Predator that’s made by a company in North Macedonia.
The scandal led to former EYP chief Panagiotis Kontoleon and the Prime Minister’s General-Secretary – his nephew – Grigoris Dimitriadis resigning under pressure, seen as an attempt to take the heat off Mitsotakis.
Earlier, Mitsotakis said in his address to the country that, “What took place may have been lawful but it was a mistake. I did not know and obviously I would have never allowed it.”
The major opposition SYRIZA laid into him and asked why the wiretapping of Androulakis was seen as being “in the national interest” as EYP claimed when it got his phone provider, WIND, to lift his phone secrecy.
Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said that Androulakis was offered briefings but had refused to learn why his phone was legally tapped even though Mitsotakis said it was wrong.
“Apart from the investigative committee and Parliament’s Institutions and Transparency Committee, which will also deal with the issue, Mr. Androulakis can always address and receive answers, in the proper institutional manner, from the competent authorities. He has persistently rejected that option as well,” Oikonomou added, apparently trying to put the onus on him.
“The monitoring of Mr Androulakis’ phone is something that should not have happened politically, but its legality is not in doubt. If Mr. Androulakis and all those who pretend to doubt the legality wish to confirm that, all they need to do is refer to Law 2225/1994. There they will find everything about the legal surveillance for national security reasons that exclude no one from their scope,” said Oikonomou.
EYP earlier put Predator on the phone of financial reporter Thanassis Koukakis, but Mitsotakis – who has seen Greece fallen to the bottom of European media freedom rankings under him – didn’t talk about it.
The Committee to Protect Journalists had called for a “swift and thorough investigation … (to) determine who orchestrated that monitoring, and hold them to account,” for monitoring Koukakis but didn’t get it.
The government has denied it uses Predator software although EYP said it did and the chief reports directly to Mitsotakis, but in this case the Premier said that didn’t happen and he knew nothing about it.