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Politics

Ex-Premier Samaras Slams Surveillance, Rejects Security Argument

ATHENS – Former Prime Minister and then-leader of New Democracy Antonis Samaras, said to be among 15,475 people in Greece whose phones were being tapped by the National Intelligence Service EYP, said the government can’t hide behind citing it’s for national security reasons.

“I don’t want to believe that the government was tapping phone conversations. It would be unthinkable. If all this were true, it would undoubtedly be an anti-democratic deviation,” he said.

“And for this, clear and complete answers must be given without second thoughts, without giving the impression above all that ‘confidentiality’ is a convenient excuse,” he added, said EURACTIV.

The allegations were made by the site Documento, which is aligned with the major opposition SYRIZA party that has attacked the reports of phone bugging and assertions that spyware was being used, which Mitsotakis denied.

He earlier assailed the report that his government targeted mobile phones of some of his ministers with spyware, calling the allegations an “incredible lie,” and with the news site not offering any proof.

The report said that the mobile phones of 33 high-profile public figures had been targeted illegally by spyware known as Predator as well as technology employed by EYP, which said it couldn’t reveal the names nor why.

“We have a publication revealing a series of people allegedly under surveillance without the faintest proof that that was actually happening,” Mitsotakis told private channel Antena1 at the time.

“I have never claimed there wasn’t any surveillance. It’s another thing to accuse the Prime Minister of orchestrating this action,” he added, calling the accusations “shameful” and “unacceptable,” reported Agence Franceo-Presse.

But the issue led to his government being the first in the European Union to propose to ban the sale of spyware although one of the headquarters of the current owner of Predator, the company Intellexa, is in Athens.

A measure to put regulations on the use of surveillance, with added measures before phone bugging can be authorized, was to be debated in the Parliament that’s controlled by the government.

Reporters Without Borders, which has continued criticism of the government over surveillance, said the bill was watered-down and that it wouldn’t offer protection to journalists who were among those who said they were being monitored.

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