Greek PM admits bugging socialist leader’s phone was wrong

Greek PM admits bugging socialist leader’s phone was wrong |

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis admitted for the first time that there was no national security reason for the secret services – under his personal control – to bug the phone of socialist leader Nikos Androulakis in the so-called “Greek Watergate”.

The “Greek Watergate” has been an open wound in Greek politics for months after it was revealed that Greek secret services bugged the phones of several politicians, journalists and businessmen.

The scandal has triggered strong reactions in the EU and journalists’ associations.

The first law Mitsotakis enacted as premier was to take the intelligence department under his helm, a decision he has so far not sufficiently explained.

Following a check with the EU Parliament services, the leader of the Greek socialist party (Pasok) and MEP Nikos Androulakis found an attempt to contaminate his phone with illegal Predator spyware, and then the secret services admitted that his phone was bugged.

The ruling New Democracy party said it was not behind the Predator attempt but admitted that the secret services bugged the socialist leader’s phone, citing national security issues. However, the government never unveiled precisely what those reasons were.

Yet, Mitsotakis has claimed for months that he was unaware of these surveillance activities.

But during a debate on Wednesday, a week before the national elections, he admitted that Androulakis “poses absolutely no risk to the country’s national security and should never have been under surveillance”.

“The explanations given for this surveillance were not sufficient”, Mitsotakis added.

“I am not a danger to democracy, but I was a danger to the New Democracy party […] My goal is for those who set up the surveillance against me and other citizens to be jailed”, Androulakis commented.

After the scandal, the head of the Greek premier’s office, his nephew Grigoris Dimitriadis, and the then-head of secret services resigned. Since then, they have disappeared without giving any explanation about the surveillance.

Main opposition Syriza party (EU Left) lashed out against the Greek premier, asking if there was no national security issue, then “who and why wanted the Pasok leader under surveillance?”

“This is unthinkable at a time when the European Parliament says that the prime minister himself was the mastermind [behind the scandal],” Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said during the debate.

Earlier this week, a European Parliament special committee (PEGA) called on the Greek government to shed light on the scandal, saying the case has dealt a severe blow to the country’s Rule of Law.

Read more: EU parliament vote on spyware gets politicised, implementation challenges loom

Greece is holding national elections on 21 May, and the spyware scandal is estimated to play a determined role in forming a coalition government.

(Sarantis Michalopoulos |

Read more with EURACTIV

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