ATHENS – Citing secrecy around national security, all but one witness called before a parliamentary committee to testify about the use of phone taps and spyware targeting 15,475 people in Greece, wouldn’t talk.
The panel was formed by Parliament although every lawmaker of the ruling New Democracy present for the vote wouldn’t take a stand and the committee is controlled by the government.
That could bring a dead end to the probe into why the phones of PASOK Socialist leader Nikos Androulakis – also a Member of the European Parliament – and financial reporter Thanasis Koukakis were bugged.
Koukakis said Predator spyware was also attached to his cell phone – he said by the National Intelligence Service (EYP) while a similar attempt to install it on Androulakis’ phone failed when he didn’t open an attachment.
Androulakis and the major opposition SYRIZA demanded an investigation into why the phones were being monitored but Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – who said he didn’t know about it nor would have allowed it – said it was legal and he can’t reveal why it was being one.
EYP, which must get a sign-off from a prosecutor before bugging phones – New Democracy ended a requirement that targets must be notified – said it was being done “in the national interest” without saying what that meant.
In its first day of operation after being set up, the committee got nowhere because only one person called to testify – former EYP chief Yiannis Roubatis would talk, said Kathimerini.
The paper said that he, however, would only say that the phone tapping was legal but that as far as he knew that no politicians were being followed when a former SYRIZA-ANEL coalition was in power.
Roubatis was asked about reports that the phones of the former head of state asset utilization fund TAIPED Stergios Pitsiorlas and Spyros Sagias, the former general secretary of SYRIZA-ANEL government, were bugged and said it’s because they were talking to others being monitored, the paper said.
The report on the meeting said that the others called all said they couldn’t talk about what EYP was doing because of national security and wouldn’t even say what comes under that.
But it was said that the committee was told that Mitsotakis – whose first act upon ousting SYRIZA in July, 2019 snap elections was to put EYP under his control – wasn’t told about the bugging.
That led him to force the resignations of his General-Secretary, his nephew Grigoris Dimitriadis and then-EYP chief Panagiotis Kontoleon for allegedly keeping him out of the loop in an embarrassing revelation.
They were called before the committee but wouldn’t talk either although the paper said some contradictory information apparently leaked out and was being reported by media sites without confirmation, further clouding the cases.
Kontoleon also reportedly refused to talk about whether or not the file concerning Androulakis exists – after he reportedly told another parliamentary committee earlier that the politician’s phone was being bugged.
EYP’s Supervising Prosecutor Vasiliki Vlachou and Appeals Prosecutor Konstantinos Tzavelas also reportedly cited secrecy and wouldn’t say why Androulakis’ phone had been tapped.