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Greece Denies Using Cell Phone Spyware to Track Investigative Journalist

ATHENS – Already accused by media freedom groups of trying to stifle any criticism, Greece’s New Democracy government is denying reports that Predator spyware was used to track an investigative journalist and his records.

That was said to have been surreptitiously installed on the cell phone of financial reporter Thanasis Koukakis, said the Greek website Inside Story, which alleged it was done through hacking.

It wasn’t said which government agency may have done it but the sie also noted a report by the Canadian laboratory Citizen Lab, based at the University of Toronto, which had revealed several cases of this kind of espionage.

Koukakis’ phone had been infected with a spyware called Predator between July 12 and September 24 last year, said the Citizen Lab report, the malware capable of recording conversations and reveal passwords photos, Internet history and any contacts, which could include sources.

Government spokesman Giannis Economou denied that the government was involved or if there had been any hacking or surveillance and said it was up to “the competent authorities to do their job to clear up this affair and for justice to be done,” without explaining what that meant.

Koukakis tweeted that statement and said he was waiting for the findings of an investigation by the ADAE, the Greek agenchy which oversees communications security and privacy of  citizens.

His investigations have included a series on a Greek bank, expenses claims at the migration ministry, and defense contracts.  The Global network for Independent Journalism tweeted it was “alarmed” by the report and said that, “We will be demanding answers from the Greek government.”

In November, 2021, the Greek left-wing daily paper Efsyn published what it were memos on political activists and a journalist from the country’s intelligence service, also denied by the government at the time.

According to Citizen Lab, the Predator malware was developed by a business called Cytrox, which is based in neighboring North Macedonia, similar to the Pegasus Spyware developed by an Israeli firm NSO said used in some countries to surveil journalists, activists and government critics.

 

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