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Politics

Mitsotakis Wants Politicians to Decide if Politicians Can Be Surveiled

ATHENS – Facing heat over the surveillance of a rival party leader and journalist having their phones tapped – and alleged use of Predator spyware – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is reportedly set to ask Parliament whether politicians could be monitored by Greece’s spy service.

The tactic is seen, said Kathimerini, as trying to stop being defensive in the face of accusations that his New Democracy government is creating a spy state after admissions the National Intelligence Service (EYP) is listening to the phone calls of 15,475 people “in the national interest.”

They weren’t identified – apart from PASOK Socialist leader Nikos Androulakis, who’s also a Member of the European Parliament – and financial reporter Thanasis Koukakis, who was reportedly looking into ties between Mitsotakis and business.

Androulakis also said that a European Parliament research lab found an attempt to put the spyware on his phone after Koukakis said his was infected by Predator after he opened a link on a text message attachment.

Parliament was called back early from a summer recess to look into the allegations that the government is spying on people, and Koukakis said it includes other politicians and journalists.

Mitsotakis’ government has denied using the spyware despite reports it bought the expensive tool and he said while he wasn’t told about Androulakis being bugged that it was legal – but wrong. He didn’t mention Koukakis.

That has put the Premier in the position of facing what’s certain to be a hot debate in Parliament on Aug. 26 about the issue, with Androulakis demanding a proble by a committee although New Democracy controls the body.

Trying to regain the momentum, Mitsotakis will put the ball in Parliament’s court in a challenge over whether lawmakers think that politicians should be surveiled although he already said it would be legal, said Kathimerini.

Mitsotakis also is said to be set to defend his actions in forcing out his then General-Secretary – his nephew Grigoris Dimiatriadis – and the former head of EYP, Panagiotis Kontoleon who he said didn’t tell him about the bugging.

ROCK TURNERS

“How can anyone accuse the Prime Minister of a cover-up when he himself unraveled the tangle by asking for … Kontoleon’s resignation and accepting … Dimitriadis’ resignation?” a government source told Kathimerini, which leans toward the government.

The second issue the government will raise is EYP and what needs to be done to prevent new instances of surveillance like the one on Androulakis’ mobile phone although that requires a prosecutor agreeing.

The newspaper said that Mitsotakis will restructure EYP, which already has a new director, after one of his first acts on taking office in July, 2019 was to have its head report directly to him, which he said didn’t happen in these cases.

The plan, it was reported, would have EYP have filters that make it more cumbersome to monitor political officials or journalists or whether it should be prohibited altogether, Mitsotakis seeking some kind of consensus.

Besides facing grilling from Androulakis, the Prime Minister will face a full frontal attack from major opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, whose usual wrath has been relatively muted so far, no word on whether his former government also was spying on people.

Androulakis, ahead of the debate, said he wants answers as to what happened in his case which he said was an assault on democracy and wouldn’t have been known if he hadn’t taken his phone in for an analysis outside Greece.

He said that Mitsotakis “has a duty to tell the whole truth to the Greek people,” the PASOK leader finding out the bugging only after he said the attempt to install Predator was discovered.

Speaking to his party’s parliamentary group and politicial council as well a other officials, he said, “If I was such a big danger as a European lawmaker, aren’t I a much bigger danger now that I’m President of the third-biggest party?”

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