ATHENS – The Greek official who authorized a company to sell Predator spyware to Madagascar, which has one of the world’s worst record for human rights, stepped down although the scandal has subsided.
Secretary General of International Economic Affairs at the Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry Ioannis Smyrlis, handed in his resignation to Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency ANA-MPA.
It wasn’t indicated whether he was forced out although the incident embarrassed the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis which has denied using the spyware to surveil politicians, journalists and business executives among others.
Smyrlis is also the head of chair of Enterprise Greece, a trade and investor relation agency that tries to lure business to Greece. He said his resignation was for personal reasons but didn’t give any details.
“Today a very important cycle of reforms and successful actions is coming to completion for me and a new one opening up, as I have been enlisted on the electoral race for the new great victory of New Democracy,” he posted on social media without clarifying what he meant.
He said he had a “constructive collaboration with … Nikos Dendias and Deputy FM (Kostas) Fragogiannis,” and thanked Mitsotakis, whose government succeeded in burying a phone bugging and spyware scandal by saying it was for “national security,” and couldn’t be revealed.
The government passed a measure banning the sale of spyware and the offices of the company which was selling Predator had its Athens office raided by police but it was said to be mostly empty.