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Politics

How Greece’s Growing Spyware, Phone Bugging Scandal Unfolded

ATHENS – The extent of a spyware and phone bugging scandal engulfing the New Democracy government in Greece began being revealed after Nikos Androulakis, leader of the PASOK-KINAL party sent his cell phone for analysis to a research lab at the European Parliament, where he is a lawmaker.

Wary of reports about Pegasus spyware being used to pry on politicians and journalists he learned that someone tried to install another version, Predator – which is made in North Macedonia in an attempt to surveil him.

That was before he learned that Greece’s National Intelligence Service (EYP) which he said he believed was behind that spyware attempt, had been listening to his phone calls after bugging him.

The newspaper Kathimerini said that on Aug. 3, a few days after he made the claim about Predator that the Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE) convened a meeting to investigate it.

Not much was expected of the probe, the paper said although it has since come out that ADAE didn’t intervene over the bugging of financial reporter Thanasis Koukakis’ phone and spyware installation because EYP said it needed to be done “in the national interest.”

The audit would take place at Androulakis’s telecommunications provider WIND, as surveillance software such as Predator leaves no traces,  and ADAE got the phone company to lift his phone privacy.

The report said what came out of the investigation of the data set off political repercussions and led to the resignation of EYP former chief Panagiotis Kontoleon and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ General-Secretary Grigoris Dimitriadis – also his nephew.

After winning election in July, 2018, Mitsotakis pushed through a measure that EYP would have to report directly to him but now said he was not informed that Androulakis’ phone was bugged and wouldn’t have allowed it.

To lift the secrecy on Androulakis’ an order was signed by Vasiliki Vlachou, the prosecutor who deals with requests from EYP. Vlachou met with Supreme Court prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos, the paper said.

Kontoleon later said that the request to further spy on Androulakis, who went to the country’s highest court with a suit aimed at getting more answers, came from the spy services of Ukraine and Armenia which had concerns about his When Mitsotakis learned about the findings of the investigation he asked for his nephew and Kontoleon to resign, although Dimitriadis has sued two media outlets for reporting developments in the case.

According to government sources not named, the prime minister’s office had not been informed about EYP’s monitoring of Androulakis’ mobile phone but it wasn’t said why given Mitsotakis wanted EYP to tell him everything.

The order to lift the secrecy on Androulakis’ phone was signed in September 2021, which, according to reports, coincided with the attempt to bug his mobile phone with the illegal Predator spyware, three months before he took over the faltering party and resurrected it.

That attempt failed, as Androulakis didn’t click on the link that would have installed the spyware on his device as Predator can only infect it that way while Pegasus is more sophisticated and take over a phone from afar.

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