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Politics

Surveiled Greek Journalist Says Spyware Tracking Thousands

ATHENS – Greek financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis, whose phone was tapped and had spyware attached to steal his data, said that it’s also being used to surveil others, which the National Intelligence Service (EYP) said was “in the national interest.”

The agency admitted that besides Koukakis, who reportedly was looking into business ties with the New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, it had bugged the phones of 15,475 others.

Koukakis told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) that the Predator spyware put on his phone when he opened a text message link – and attempt to do to the same with PASOK Socialist leader Nikos Androulakis – wasn’t isolated.

“When you have a system like Predator, you don’t use it for just two people,” he said, prosecutors having to sign off on their use,  Koukakis said journalists and politicians likely targets.

The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, however, said Greece had obtained Predator from a North Macedonia company, Cytrox, which was taken over by Intellexa, a surveillance company with offices now in Athens.

Greek authorities, however, haven’t investigated the company nor raided its offices despite the growing furor over the scandal and Androulakis’ demand for probe to determine whether EYP tried to infect his phone.

Koukakis said his complaints would have been ignored if Androulakis hadn’t been tracked, that found only after the PASOK leader – also a Member of the European Parliament – took his phone to as research lab there which found the attempt to install Predator three months before taking over PASOK in December, 2021.

A Commission of Inquiry at the European Parliament, which is probing use of Predator in Europe, invited Koukakis to give evidence on Aug. 30, the report said, Koukakis telling BIRN he expects more revelations of spying.

“How does one person without knowledge of a case sign almost 42 such provisions for independent and different cases every day?” Koukakis asked. “These things are unprecedented and only happen in the Greek state.”

“The questions to be asked are: how many other journalists? How many other politicians? It’s not just me and Androulakis,” he said, although EYP did not identify who was being followed nor why.

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