5th Dec 2023

EU Commission silent on Greek spyware sale to Madagascar

  • New York Times investigation reveals the Greek government gave the company, Intellexa, licenses to sell Predator to Madagascar. (Photo: Luke Porter)
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The EU Commission says it works closely with EU states on dual-use exports but will not comment on new revelations that Greece authorised the sale of spyware software to Madagascar.

"We do not comment on individual cases or exchanges we have with member states," a European Commission spokesperson, told reporters in Brussels on Friday (9 December).

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The revelation, exposed in a investigation by the New York Times on Thursday, adds to the mounting body of evidence of spyware being used by EU state actors against politicians, journalists, lawyers and others.

The Greek government confirmed to the paper that it had granted the company, Intellexa, licences to sell Predator spyware to Madagascar.

Amnesty International, in a report, faulted Madagascar for harassing journalists, its prison detention of children, and state-led discrimination against the LGBTI community.

EU dual-export rules, which governs civilian technologies with possible military or security uses, includes provisions on cyber surveillance technologies.

Those provisions are supposed to ensure their trade is legitimate and will not be used to violate human rights.

National authorities are responsible for deciding on whether to grant authorisation.

But the commission also says "it works in close cooperation with member states to ensure that the rules are implemented correctly."

However, when asked if this includes Intellexa's Predator sale to Madagascar, the EU commission refused to say.

A European Parliament inquiry has been probing the issue for months.

Among the lead MEPs in the committee is Dutch liberal Sophie In't Veld, tasked to draft a final report of the inquiry's findings.

In a tweet, following the publication of the New York Times investigation, In't Veld accused the European Commission of "guilty negligence turning Europe into a spyware gangsters paradise."

Predator is also at the centre of political turmoil in Greece, following revelations it had been used against opposition leaders and journalists.

Nikos Androulakis, leader of the Greek opposition PASOK party, said attempts had been made to infect his phone with Predator software.

Predator had also infected the phone of Greek financial journalist Thanasis, and had targeted lawmaker for the Syriza party, Christos Spirtzis, among others.

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