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Politics

Greek Privacy Chief Says Minister, Military Leaders Phones Bugged

ATHENS – The head of the Hellenic Authority for Communications Security and Privacy (ADAE) body Christos Rammos said in a letter to Parliament that a government minister, a parliamentary aide and four military officials had their phones legally tapped by the National Intelligence Service EYP.

He didn’t name them and the New Democracy government said anyone who reveals information about who is being surveilled – EYP said it’s bugging 15,745 people – could be prosecuted.

He met with major opposition SYRIZA leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras – at the party leader’s request – a move which drew the wrath of the New Democracy government and brought a sharp retort from Rammos.

ADAE is looking into surveillance, the government trying to prevent it, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said Rammos was trying “to become a political actor in a sensitive period,” while referring to a “strange privileged relationship with SYRIZA and its President.”

Rammos fired back that, “I find it deeply offensive to my honour and reputation to claim that I aspire to play a political role. From where does the Government spokesman derive this statement? My background of almost 40 years on the Council of State and almost 4 years on the SSC proves it beyond doubt. Everyone who knows me can testify to that. Nothing is more alien to my character and my aspirations than my involvement in politics,” reported CNN Greece.

After the meeting Tsipras stated: “Fortunately there are still judges in Athens and the light of Democracy has once again defeated the darkness,” referring to Rammos taking a stand in the face of government pressure.

PASOK-KINAL Movement for Change center-left leader Nikos Androulakis – whom EYP earlier admitted was being bugged for “national security” reasons – jumped into the political fray and said that Mitsotakis should call for a parliamentary committee to be briefed on the wiretapping report.

The panel overseeing the issue though is controlled by a majority of New Democracy members and its earlier investigation was buried under secrecy and blistered by rival lawmakers as being partisan.

Androulakis also a Member of the European Parliament and sent his mobile phone to analysts there who said there was also an attempt to install Predator spyware on it, which the government has denied using.

He said that Mitsotakis should allow the New Democracy lawmakers on the parliamentary panel to be briefed on the ADAE report, saying that otherwise it’s leading to international embarrassment, the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency AMNA said.

Androulakis, whose cellphone wiretapping issue has led to several and more widely extended investigations, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis should ensure that ruling New Democracy majority deputies allow Parliament to be briefed on the ADAE report.

Androulakis said he got a letter from Rammos, “in which he informs me of the results of the independent authority’s investigation, since the parliamentary majority of (ruling) New Democracy still bans the legal briefing of Parliament and, by extension, of the entire Greek people.”

He said that’s a refusal by the government to reveal the truth which he added “completes and documents the impression of an institutional decay which reached its apex with the cover-up of the scandal in the so-called Investigation Committee, and the continuing attempt to unconstitutionally gag independent authorities.”

All of these, he stressed, “constitute a gradual drift into authoritarianism, and embarrass Greece internationally,” and reminded that he went to independent authorities and the European Court of Human Rights “in order for the truth to be revealed and the credibility of institutions – which the Maximos Mansion coterie viciously abused – be reestablished.”

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