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Politics

New Democracy Wants Secret Phone Tap, Spy Scandal Probe

ATHENS – Greece’s New Democracy government, under fire for the use of phone tapping and possibly spyware, wants a parliamentary panel’s review, including of the National Intelligence Service (EYP) confidential.

The hearing will be held behind closed doors and the government, said Kathimerini, is anxious that there could be leaks damaging to the national security while rival parties want revelations made public, claiming that otherwise it would show a coverup attempt.

The committee was established by a vote of Parliament in which all of the government’s lawmakers abstained from taking a stand and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis defended the role of EYP as a clandestine service.

A previous hearing in a parliamentary committee led to news the then-EYP chief Panagiotis Kontoleon – who has since quit – admitted that the phones of PASOK Socialist leader Nikos Androulakis and financial reporter Thanasis Koukakis.

The journalist said Predator spyware was also attached to his phone and Androulakis – also a Member of the European Parliament – said there was an attempt to install it on his, before revelations about the phone bugging.

To keep what’s said in the committee hush-hush, the government doesn’t want a public debate, complaining that it would expose the inner workings of EYP, which Kontoleon said is monitoring 15,745 phones without giving a reason beyond being “in the national interest.”

Mitsotakis also refuses to say why Androulakis was being monitored as the PASOK leader demanded to know and if why he was considered a threat, and if EYP was behind the spyware attempt.

PASOK and the major opposition SYRIZA want answers though, the paper said, and will insist that whatever comes out be available in some cases to the media to show transparency in the probe.

Parliament is considering asking lawmakers on the committee to leave their cell phones outside so that there can’t be any recordings made of what’s said but it wasn’t indicated whether the members would be muzzled from speaking about it.

New Democracy, which has a majority in Parliament, also does on the panel and  Parliament Speaker Konstantinos Tasoulas could effectively limit any attempt at censure by rival parties.

The panel has invited a list of witnesses, including Mitsotakis’ former General-Secretary, and nephew, Grigoris Dimitriadis, who was also forced out after the Premier said he was never told about the bugging.

Also summonsed, the paper said, were Kontoleon, the chairman of the Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE), Christos Rammos, appeals prosecutors Vasiliki Vlachou and Konstantinos Tzavelas, current EYP chief Themistoklis Demiris, and also two of the agency’s former leaders, Yannis Roubatis and Theodoros Dravillas.

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