BRUSSELS – The European Commission has joined in wanting Greece’s New Democracy government to explain why a rival politician and financial reporter’s phones were being tapped and the reported use of Predator spyware.
Katarzyna Kolanko, the European Commission’s Press Officer on Justice and Rule of Law told the Turkish Anadolu Agency that, “We can confirm sending a letter to the Greek authorities,” the site said.
“The letter was sent following previous reports on the use of this (Israeli-made) spyware in Greece, as also reflected in the 2022 Rule of Law Report,” she stated as concern grows over spyware being used in the European Union.
Other countries are being looked at as well over the use of the more sophisticated Pegasus spyware that – unlike Predator – can infect a phone without the user clicking on an attachment link.
The report, said Anadolu said that, “attacks and threats against journalists persist and journalists’ professional environment has deteriorated further” in Greece, which media freedom groups said has the worst record in the EU.
“It was moreover reported that one Greek journalist has been targeted by spyware surveillance software equivalent to Pegasus (Predator), while another journalist was allegedly monitored by” the Greek intelligence, the report said.
It referred to the alerts of the journalist protection platform of the Council of Europe which represents the heads of states although Greece’s New Democracy government has denied using spyware.
“The Greek authorities do not use the specific software described in these complaints. The Greek State does not trade with any of the companies that manufacture or market such software,” the Commission said.
That was at odds with a report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab which said spyware had been sold to Greece among other countries and the European Parliament research lab finding an attempt to install it on the cell phone of Nikos Androulakis, who’s also head of Greece’s PASOK party.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis admitted that the National Intelligence Service (EYP) wiretapped Androulakis’ phone but said he was never informed nor would have allowed it.
The reveleations led to former EYP chief Panigiotis Kontoleon and Mitsotakis’ then General-Secretary – his nephew Grigoris Dimitriadis – stepping down for keeping the premier out of the loop about the surveillance.
Kontoleon broke open the scandal when he told a parliamentary committee that the agency had tapped the phone of financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis, who the New York Times was said to be looking into links between Mitsotakis and business leaders, no further details.