ATHENS – Reports from some media sites claiming the use of spyware was widespread under New Democracy have been dismissed by the government as unfounded and that it would be borne out. Government spokesperson Yiannis Oikonomou said the assertions regarding surveillance software and intrusions were “fanciful” and “lacking any evidence or backing,” noting they mostly came from a site, Documento, with ties to the major opposition SYRIZA.
That’s operated by journalist Kostas Vaxevanis whom Oikonomou said believes as a principle that whatever can be imagined is true – there continues the publication in serial form in the press of various fictions regarding the affair with the surveillance software and intrusions…”
But those reports alleging the use Predator spyware said that Greek police and the National Intelligence Service EYP were monitoring targets and undermine Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ claims denying government use, said SYRIZA.
With both sides already essentially in a pre-campaign mode although the mid-2023 elections are months off, the surveillance scandal has seen them swapping shots with no indication who is operating spyware.
Documento and the newspaper To Vima, which is owned by shipping oligarch Evangelos Marinakis who’s embroiled in a feud with Mitsotakis, made further allegations of spyware use.
Those, said SYRIZA in a release, have led “to the collapse of [Mitsotakis’] narrative that a supposed unknown private party was operating the malware,” said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency AMNA.
“The revelations that are made public complete new pieces of the puzzle of the illegal surveillance and leave no room for doubt regarding Mr. Mitsotakis’ guilt,” the statement said.
To Vima reported that, “Predator not only operated in areas of the Greek public sector but that those operating it were seconded police officers, whose names and surnames are made public for the first time.”
The Leftists, who are far behind in surveys and scrambling to pick up ground, said Mitsotakis must confirm or deny whether claims made by Documento – which said that his own Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and another official were being spied on – are true.
“As long as he does not dare to do so and keeps quiet, he confirms how dangerous a Prime Minister he is for democracy,” the party statement concluded, with To Vima also reporting that EYP and the police were involved.
The paper also partly revealed the identities of Greek senior police officers who were involved in the surveillance publishing their initials. It claimed that the wiretapping was conducted by an EYP secret office located in the Athenian suburb of Agia Paraskevi.
Oikonomou didn’t say whether charges would be pressed as the government has barred release of information about spyware cases after a parliamentary committee with a majority of New Democracy members said it’s review would remain secret.
“Fanciful claims are outlined, without any kind of evidence or proof … our unchanging position is that, politically, there is nothing more frightening or dangerous than imagination that is not based on any proof,” said Oikonomou.
“The investigation of all the claims and stories that are published is the work and obligation of justice, which will give the final answers concerning the action of surveillance software in Greece, from when they first appeared and not just within a limited time frame,” Oikonomou said.