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25th Feb 2024

Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal

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Greece has become embroiled in a wiretapping scandal that led to the resignation of its intelligence chief.

The resignation follows revelations the state intelligence service EYP, which reports to the office of Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, had allegedly tapped Mitsotakis' political opponent.

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Greek media outlet Ekathimerini says Mitsotakis on Monday (8 August) is set to issue a statement over the affair.

The prime minister had himself over the weekend described the wiretap as a "huge and unforgivable mistake".

It also comes as an embarrassment for Mitsotakis, who had earlier in July at the European Parliament described his centre-right government in glowing terms.

But the revelations are also likely to spell further trouble for Mitsotakis amid calls for an investigation.

His own top aide and nephew Grigoris Dimitriadis had also resigned and for reasons that were not made clear.

"Mitsotakis ought to provide explanations to the Greek people over his own 'Watergate.' It's an issue related to democracy," said Alexis Tsipras, who leads the left-wing Syriza opposition.

The target of the attack was a mobile telephone belonging to Nikos Androulakis, who heads the socialist Pasok-Movement for Change, the third largest political party in Greece.

"I never expected the Greek government to spy on me using the darkest practices," he said, in a televised address.

A European Parliament committee looking into illegal phone surveillance is said to have confirmed in late July to Androulakis, who is also an MEP, that there had been an attempt to bug his phone with Predator spyware.

Androulakis then last week filed a complaint with top Greek court prosecutors over the affair.

Citizen Lab, a Canada-based research outlet, says Predator spyware was developed by a North Macedonian start-up called Cytrox.

They also say Predator customers are likely based in Armenia, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Madagascar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Serbia.

Similar findings were made by Google's Threat Analysis Group, which in May said the software is used by "government-backed actors" in nations including Egypt, Armenia, Greece, Madagascar, Côte d'Ivoire, Serbia, Spain and Indonesia.

The Greek prime minister's office on Friday, in a statement, said that EYP's spy chief Panagiotis Kontoleon submitted his resignation "following mistaken actions found during lawful wiretapping procedures."

Reuters, citing unmanned sources, says Kontoleon had also admitted that his service had spied on Thanasis Koukakis, a financial journalist who works for CNN Greece.

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