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Politics

Greece Denies Report Spying on Politicians, Wives, Journalists

ATHENS – New Democracy government spokesman  Giannis Oikonomou said there’s no proof supporting a claim made by a news site said to have ties to the major opposition SYRIZA about using spyware to track a long list of targets, including politicians, ministers and wives and reporters.

The site Documento, published by Kostas Vaxevanis, released names despite facing prosecution as a parliamentary committee with a government majority is prohibited from revealing information about its probe into whether spyware was being used, which the government denied.

“All that has been published in Mr. Vaxevanis’ newspaper must be exhaustively investigated by the competent authorities and especially Greek justice. There’s plenty of narration, (but) evidence is lacking,” said Oikonomou.

Among those said to have had Predator spyware installed on their phones after the National Intelligence Service EYP admitted it was bugging 15,745 people on the grounds of national security were the government’s own Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and former premier and then-Conservative leader Antonis Samaras.

Also, the wife of current Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis, former SYRIZA government spokeswoman and minister Olga Gerovasili, and Alexis Papachelas, Executive Editor of Kathimerini newspaper.

The British newspaper The Daily Mail said the list also included shipping magnate Vangelis Marinakis, owner of Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest soccer teams and said the report will rock the government.

Documento, without saying how it obtained the list of names that were supposed to be kept confidential – as would be the findings of the parliamentary panel – blamed the Premier.

Vaxevanis said he has asked for an appointment with the Supreme Court’s chief prosecutor after claiming that Mitsotakis “used state intelligence to spy on dozens of people including potential political rivals, journalists and businessmen.”

The spyware was made by a North Macedonian company since taken over by an Israeli ex-intelligence officer who has an office in Athens and was tied to a a spyware van scandal on Cyprus.

There were 30 politicians named by Documento, including those in New Democracy who were said to pose a challenge to Mitsotakis’ leadership if he begins to falter over the issue although he’s riding high in polls.

Documento said, without identifying them, that it had information from “two people with key roles in the survillance but Oikonomou said the report was done to “hurt” the government and undermine political stability.

The report came after a European Parliament committee investigating wiretaps in Greece and other EU states called for a deeper investigation of the case and said there were indications the government was behind the spyware use.

“Surveillance software exists in Greece as in the rest of Europe, but no (Greek) public authority has purchased or uses it,” said Oikonomou and Mitsotakis said he would move to ban unlawful bugging but not that necessary for national security.

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