26th Jan 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.


Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Poland's legal fixes to collect EU funds come under fire

Unlocking the €35.4bn in grants and loans allocated for Poland as part of the EU's Covid-19 fund is key for the Law & Justice (PiS) government to boost its chances ahead of the upcoming elections in the autumn.

Latest News

  1. Official: EU parliament's weak internal rule-making body leads to 'culture of impunity'
  2. Red tape border logjam for EU's 1.3m 'frontier workers'
  3. Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency
  4. Greek government in no-confidence vote over spying scandal
  5. The legal battle for justice against Kremlin's 'untouchables'
  6. UAE's fossil-fuelled high-tech mirage of a green future
  7. MEP harassment case sheds light on flimsy support for victims
  8. Big Agri's EU lobbying playbook on 'hunger' and a 'refugee crisis'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  2. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  3. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  5. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  6. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us