10th Jun 2023

Greece accused of undermining rule of law in wiretap scandal

Listen to article

The Greek government has been accused of violating the rule of law, following a wiretapping scandal that has ensnared Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

"What is being described here as the wiretapping scandal in Greece is yet another indication as to how much the rule of law is being violated in Greece," Greek journalist Thanasis Koukakis told MEPs on Thursday (8 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Koukakis, who has contributed to CNN Greece, the Financial Times and CNBC, had been targeted by Predator, which allows operators to monitor every aspect of a target's phone, including calls, messages, photos and video.

His comments were made to MEPs in a special inquiry committee on spyware, which had invited three Greek journalists to discuss the widening scandal.

Stavros Malichudis, another Greek journalist who had been wiretapped, offered similar comments.

"The first thing you realise is that your sources are exposed and these are people that are maybe more vulnerable than you," he said.

Eliza Triantafillou, an investigative journalist who broke the Predator story in April for Inside Story, said at least four people have been targeted.

"And we think that this number is going to grow as well," she said.

Her story was followed by revelations that Greek opposition leader Nikos Androulakis had been sent a text message last September with a link that would have installed Predator onto his mobile phone.

Androulakis has since filed a lawsuit with the prosecutor's office, which lead to the eventual resignation of the head of the Greek National Intelligence Service (EYP).

The EYP reports directly to Mitsotakis, whose secretary general (and nephew) Grigoris Dimitriadis also resigned over the affair.

Although Mitsotakis has acknowledged that Androulakis phone was wiretapped, he has denied any knowledge of it.

He also says the state has never purchased Predator, in comments echoed by government-friendly media outlets in Greece.

But further media revelations also suggest alleged links between Predator's distributor, Intellexa in Greece, and Mitsotakis' nephew Dimitriadis.

Dimitriadis has since launched Slapp lawsuits against media outlets Reporters United and Efimerida ton Syntakton (EfSyn) for their reporting.

He also wants €150,000 from Koukakis for having tweeted the stories.

Such attacks against critical journalists, including international correspondents, has placed Greece among those states with the worst press freedoms in the EU, according to Reporters without Borders.

And while the Greek constitution bans wiretapping, it still makes exceptions for reasons linked to national security and crime.

But those exceptions are said to be ripe with abuse.

One prosecutor, 42 wiretap approvals daily

Last year, a single prosecutor signed 15,975 decisions to wiretap people for reasons of national security, said Koukakis.

"So every single day she approved 42 decisions to wiretap people, for reasons of national security. That is a single prosecutor and they are not controlled by anyone," he said.

Koukakis and Triantafillou also shed doubt over government claims that it had never purchased Predator.

"The government now is hiding behind the fact that the state has not bought the system [Predator]. I mean, this is ridiculous," said Koukakis.

"They could have outsourced it to someone, to a private person that was working on orders," said Triantafillou.

The Greek parliament has set up its own parliament inquiry to probe the scandal.

But Greek lawmakers are at odds on who to invite to stand witness, leading to walk outs by opposition MPs at meeting on Thursday in Athens.

Meanwhile, the Greek government says it has done nothing wrong.

"We underline the fact that the Greek state is not involved in any kind of illegal surveillance," said Athanasios Staveris from the Greek digital governance for telecommunications.

Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal

Greece has become embroiled in a wiretapping scandal that led to the resignation of its intelligence chief as well as the Greek prime minister's top aide.


NSO surveillance rival operating in EU

As European Parliament hearings into hacking scandals resume this week, an investigation led by Lighthouse Reports with EUobserver, Der Spiegel, Domani and Irpimedia reveals the unreported scale of operations at a shady European surveillance outfit.

EU parliament spyware inquiry eyes Italian firms

An investigation by Lighthouse Reports and media partners including EUobserver found Italian firms Tykelab and RCS Lab were using surreptitious phone network attacks and sophisticated spyware against targets. The findings have spiked the interest of MEPs already probing spyware abuse.


Creeping civil society curbs threaten rights in Europe in 2023

The threat to civil society organisations protecting human rights now not just from Russia, Turkey, Hungary and Poland but also from elected governments in states whose democracies appear healthy, such as France, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

New EU media bill seeks to curtail government meddling

The proposal for a so-called European Media Freedom Act announced on Friday by the European Commission is part of wider efforts to tackle the erosion of rule of law in EU states like Poland and Hungary.

EU's proposed ethics body 'toothless', say campaigners

Transparency campaigners say the new ethics body proposed by the European Commission will do little to prevent corruption at the EU institutions. The proposal comes six months after allegations of a Qatari corruption affair involving a former European Parliament vice-president.

Latest News

  1. Negotiations on asylum reform to start next week, says MEP
  2. EU gig workers compromise dubbed ‘a disaster for workers’
  3. EU's one-off chance to influence Laos taking over ASEAN chair
  4. Belgian bâtonnier on Russia: 'You can have a client you don't like'
  5. EU's proposed ethics body 'toothless', say campaigners
  6. Study: 90% of Spanish inflation 'driven by corporate profits'
  7. If Spanish economy is doing well, why is Sanchez poised to lose?
  8. EU lawyers for Russia: making 'good' money?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations
  2. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  3. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  4. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains
  2. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  3. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us