ATHENS – Greece’s ruling New Democracy government, mired in a spy scandal, is said to be looking to revamp the troubled National Intelligence Service (EYP) by modeling it after the United Kingdom’s vaunted MI5 and MI6 operations.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said Kathimerini, chose the British model after research and contacts by associates who weren’t named and met a prominent member of the British security and intelligence services, also unidentified.
The Premier, it was said, wants to use the debacle to overhaul EYP, believing it hasn’t performed properly to protect national security although its clandestine role is not well known to the public.
The British expert has extensive experience in counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, intelligence and security sector reform, and known as upgrading the UK’s intelligence services, the paper said.
He was an MI5 officer during the 1980s and 1990s and dealt with the terrorist threats arising from the Northern Ireland troubles and international terrorism.
He was said to have been instrumental in counter-terrorism techniques developed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and, while retired, is still an advisor to the British government informally, the paper said.
His identity was kept secret – Kathimerini didn’t say if it knew who he was – because he’s going to be working with the Greek government. His experience was mainly with the UK’s M15 branch, which is responsible for domestic security, not MI6, which operates internationally.
Mitsotakis, in one of his first acts on taking office in July, 2019 elections in a rout of the former Radical Left SYRIZA was to have the director of EYP supposedly report directly to him.
He said that didn’t happen in the cases of EYP bugging the phones of PASOK Socialist leader Nikos Androulakis – which he cared about – and financial reporter Thanasis Koukakis, which he didn’t.
The Greek government is looking for solutions that clearly separate internal security issues from national security issues with Androulakis asking if he was considered a threat to national security but getting no answers.
The embarrassment led Mitsotakis to force out his General-Secretary, and nephew, Grigoris Dimitriadis and the then-head of EYP Panagiotis Kontoleon and set off fury over the agency monitoring the phones of 15,745 people.
Androulakis, who has resurrected the dormant center-left after taking over in December, 2021 is also a Member of the European Parliament and a spyware committee there is looking into Greece’s scandal and whether Predator spyware was used by the government, which it denied.
Mitsotakis, trying to distance himself from the mess with elections coming in 2023, said he would reform EYP but a Greek parliamentary committee looking into the scandal – with a New Democracy majority – voted to keep it secret.