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Politics

PASOK Chief Says Jailed Kaili Was “Trojan Horse” for New Democracy

ATHENS – He didn’t boot her from the party before she got ensnared in a corruption probe involving Qatar at the European Parliament, but PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis said Eva Kaili was secretly tying herself to the ruling New Democracy long before that.

Kaili was a Vice-President at the Parliament before being arrested and is detention until a court hearing on Dec. 22 in an investigation that has seen three others, including her partner Francesco Giorgi facing charges of taking bribes from Qatar.

That led to Androulakis expelling her and now he’s claiming she was a “Trojan Horse” for Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ ruling Conservatives, the PASOK leader told POLITICO in an interview.

He said there had been no contact between Kaili and the party since July – when news broke his phone was bugged by Greece’s National Intelligence Service EYP and an attempt made to install Predator spyware on it.

“I had even instructed the party’s secretary never to invite her to the Central Committee. “We were never close … “but things changed rapidly after July 26,” he added as the spyware scandal broke out.

He went to Greece’s Supreme Court and filed a complaint about attempted hacking of his phone that was detected during a check at the European Parliament but the government has denied being behind it.

Androulakis said that hours after he visited the court, Kaili gave an interview saying that surveillance is common and happens in many European countries. She also said it had happened to her and is not a serious issue, added the report.

This, Androulakis said, was exactly the same “line that New Democracy” was using, and “we knew very well that her phone was checked along with mine and nothing was found.”

Later Kaili, who was a member of the European Parliament’s inquiry into spyware  – the PEGA Committee — said the committee should not visit Greece as part of its investigation. “She kept trying to downplay the issue,” Androulakis said.

And then he said when it came to voting for the European Parliament’s new Secretary-General that she didn’t join the rest of the Socialists and Democrats in abstaining but voted for Alessandro Chiocchetti, the center-right Parliament President Roberta Metsola’s Chief of Staff.

“I cannot say that her actions were guided by New Democracy, but it is obvious that politically over the last few months her behavior has actually been to the advantage of New Democracy,” Androulakis said.

New Democracy denied the allegations as far-fetched although he earlier also told Greek media he believed she was getting ready to jump ship and join the Conservatives ahead of what’s expected to be a bruising 2023 elections.

Mitsotakis, the site said, accused Androulakis of  “panic and pettiness,” the atmosphere bristling again between them after the Premier apologized for EYP bugging the PASOK leader’s phone, saying he didn’t know of it.

“Kaili has been in PASOK almost since she was a child, she would never abandon it … she’s an active force,” said an official from the European People’s Party, of which New Democracy is a member.

“EPP never approached her, neither did she approach them. There are rumors in Greece that New Democracy approached her, but those are rumors. Those are baseless. It wasn’t even a political flirt,” the statement added.

But Grigoris Dimitriadis, Mitsotakis’ nephew and a former top aide who was ousted after not informing him about the bugging, had praised Kaili and tweeted that, “A young woman and a very good friend who is a protagonist in European affairs has been appointed as Vice President of the European Parliament yesterday! Congratulations.”

So why didn’t Androulakis eject her before the scandal, especially after she was condemned for praising Qatar’s labor rights record in Parliament after media reports some 6500 foreign workers died building facilities for the World Cup there?

“It might be an easy process to expel someone from PASOK, but it’s very difficult to do the same from the political groups in the European Parliament, especially if one is a Vice-President,” he said.

He also noted her role on the PEGA committee looking into the use of spyware in the EU, before some panel members came to Athens and said they got nowhere because the government said surveillance was a secret issue out of the need for “national security.”

“We were afraid that it would be perceived … as a sign of weakness in relation to the outcome of the finding (of the committee.) We did not want to give that impression,” Androulakis told the news site.

But he said he asked the Socialists and Democrats leader Iratxe García Pérez to take severe measures against her although the party was also accused of being soft on Qatar and didn’t boot her until she was tied to the corruption probe. He blamed them for not acting to explain why he didn’t either.

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