ATHENS – Back early from summer recess, the Greek Parliament that’s controlled by the New Democracy government is moving to set up a panel to look into the wiretapping of PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis and journalist Thanis Koukakis.
The eavesdropping and Predator Spyware being put on Koukakis’ phone and an attempt to install it on Androulakis’ – which they said was by the National Intelligence Service (EYP) has scandalized and pressured the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who said he didn’t know about it.
Officials have also denied using the spyware although the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, perhaps the world’s foremost analysts, said Greece had obtained it from Cytrox, a North Macedonia company now in the hands of a former Israeli intelligence officer with offices in Athens.
The request for the inquiry came from the PASOK Socialists and was backed by SYRIZA, the major opposition to the ruling Conservatives who have slammed the use of spyware and phonetapping.
The decision by Parliament won’t take place, however, until a plenary session on Aug. 29 despite the intense pressure the government is under, Mitsotakis having already forced out his former General-Secretary – and nephew – Grigoris Dimitrias, and then EYP chief Pangiotis Kontoleon for not telling him about the spying.
Androulakis is also a Member of the European Parliament and said he only discovered the spyware attempt when he took his phone to a research lab there and later discovered his conversations were being monitored.
In a letter to House speaker Kostas Tasoulas – from New Democracy – PASOK said that such practices “amount to a violation of fundamental principles and institutions of (democracy) as they impinge, to say the least, on the right to free and equal elections, as well as on the principle of party pluralism.”
The opposition appears to have easily obtained the minimum 120 votes in the 300 member House required under the constitution for the committee’s creation, while ruling New Democracy – with 158 seats – wants an extension of the investigation, said Kathimerini.
The vote will be preceded on Aug. 26 by a debate on the issue by party leaders that could be fiery as political rivals of the government have accused Mitsotakis’ administration with operating a deep state tracking more than 15,700 people on their phones.
Parliament’s Committee on Institutions and Transparency will also convene Aug. 24 to discuss the appointment of the new chief of EYP, Themistoklis Demiris, who will report directly to Mitsotakis as Kontoleon was supposed to have done.
SYRIZA accused Mitsotakis of “both knowing about the phone-tapping and coordinating it,” although he denied it and said he never would have allowed bugging of a rival political party leader.
PASOK also accused the government of attempting to cover up the phone-tapping allegations from its leader, despite the fact they were confirmed by the European Parliament, the paper noted.