ATHENS — Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government is accused of trying to neutralize regulators pursuing it over a scandal involving wiretapping of politicians and journalists.
Greece’s spying scandal – dubbed “Predatorgate” – exploded in the summer of 2022 when socialist leader Nikos Androulakis discovered an attempted wiretap on his phone with malicious spyware, followed by the revelation that he was also under surveillance by state spy services.
Since then, the saga has evolved into a labyrinthine spy thriller in which the malicious Predator spyware is installed on the phones of an ever-expanding network of politicians and journalists. The government denies using this illegal spyware.
In the latest twist in the scandal, a magistrate summoned former and current members of the independent monitoring body (ADAE) as suspects for leaking classified information, according to several officials.
The ADAE has conducted a rigorous investigation into this matter and this decision is seen as another attempt to intimidate those looking into it.
“It is remarkable that the Greek justice system, which has so far — after 18 months — done nothing or charged anyone for using spyware, is rushing to prosecute two members of the spyware body. surveillance, who simply did their duty,” ADAE President Christos Rammos told the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) on Thursday.
Rammos also described how he found himself threatened by members of the Greek parliament and government officials simply for doing his job.
“We do not comment on cases pending before the judicial system,” government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said on Thursday.
On Wednesday evening, it was revealed that the magistrate had summoned former ADAE board member Katerina Papanikolaou and current member Stefanos Gritzalis, as well as two other employees, as suspects in connection with the disclosure of state secrets to a wiretapping victim, journalist Thanasis Koukakis.
“The authoritarian prosecution highlights Mitsotakis’ vindictiveness and anti-institutional methods against officials who had authority and dared to control the scandal,” MP Effie Achtsioglou, of the opposition Syriza party, said in a statement. communicated.
She added that the problem should be brought to the attention of the European Commissioner for Justice. and called for joint action by the opposition “against the decline of the rule of law and for the protection of independent authorities”.
Socialist MP Dimitris Mantzos, from the PASOK party, also called on opposition parties to join forces to shed light on this matter.
The move comes just weeks after the conservative New Democracy government and the ultranationalist Greek Solution party abruptly changed ADAE’s leadership, altering the composition of the board and undoing Rammos’ efforts to shed light on this matter.
The opposition likened the personnel changes to a “coup.” Papanikolaou was among those expelled.
On Monday, the Supreme Court prosecutor also ordered the transfer of the investigation from the trial prosecutor’s office to the Supreme Court. The order comes as investigators insist on verifying whether the lists of some 90 Predator spyware targets and those monitored by state services are the same.
It has already been revealed that three of the Predator targets were also placed under state surveillance. If multiple names matched, it would suggest that there was only one “command”.
“As soon as the prosecutors requested this cross-check, they were removed from the case,” said Dutch MP Sophie in ‘t Veld, rapporteur for the European Parliament’s PEGA committee. It was a move she described as “the anatomy of a cover-up.”
“If we list all the movements, a very clear pattern emerges: the work of the ADAE has been hindered at every step. »