ATHENS – Greece’s New Democracy government, assailed by rivals over a phone bugging scandal that has largely been buried, needs to reveal before elections why 15,745 people were being monitored, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament who’s on a spyware committee said.
Sophie in ‘t Veld told EURACTIV that must be done so that “any shadow of a doubt is lifted” about some politicians whose phones were bugged, including government ministers as well as journalists and business leaders.
The National Intelligence Agency EYP had bugged the phone of PASOK-KINAL leader Nikos Androulakis, the country’s third-ranking party that’s rising, but stopped after that was revealed.
EYP – which reports directly to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, didn’t inform him in this case, the premier said, and he shut down Androulakis’ surveillance but won’t say why his rival was being surveilled.
In ‘t Veld is the rapporteur for the Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (PEGA) which came to Greece to investigate but got nowhere, told it was a case of “national security.”
The major opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras, ousted in July, 2019 snap elections, has been using the scandal to attack Mitsotakis and his government.
Tsipras also brought a no-confidence vote against the government that was defeated by the majority party’s lawmakers in Parliament, the move coming after the head of the country’s privacy agency was chided by Mitsotakis’ spokesman for investigating the phone bugging.
That revealed that military leaders had their phones bugged too as well as ministers, none of whom have reacted although EYP has said the targets were technically potential security risks.
Tsipras accused Mitsotakis of ordering the surveillance and SYRIZA spokeswoman Popi Tsapanidou, formerly a well-known TV presenter, said the Prime Minister “may know secrets of Androulakis and can blackmail him,” which could affect post-election coalition talks, dismissed by PASOK.
Tsipras also claimed that the surveillance had produced “rich” material which can be used to blackmail targets, the site said, and in ‘t Veld said an investigation should be finished to finally clear the air.