Cover-up complaints fly over Greek wire-tapping scandal


Cover-up allegations are dogging a short-lived Greek parliamentary investigation into a state wire-tapping scandal that wraps up next week without providing any real answers. But the case, which has cast an unflattering light on the conservative government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, remains a priority for the European Parliament. The European Union assembly is sending a fact-finding delegation in November to interview key witnesses.

The scandal could also impact the formation of a future Greek government, following a general election scheduled for 2023. The affair broke in July when Nikos Androulakis — a European Parliament lawmaker and leader of the Greek Socialist party (Pasok/Kinal) — filed a legal complaint alleging there had been attempts to tap his mobile phone using illegal spyware known as Predator. Within days, it emerged that Androulakis had indeed been under surveillance, separately, from the Greek intelligence service before he became leader of Pasok, Greece’s third largest party.

In August, the Greek intelligence service chief, as well as a close aide and nephew to the prime minister, both resigned over the case. This put the government in a tricky spot. For months it had fended off accusations of wire tapping made by two Greek journalists, one of whom claimed to have been hacked both by Predator and by state intelligence. The Greek parliament responded by setting up a cross-party committee to investigate the scandal, which has drawn parallels to Watergate.

Mitsotakis has sought to limit the damage, insisting he had not been informed that Androulakis was under surveillance though noting that it was, in any case, technically legal. But he acknowledged it was “politically unacceptable”. “It is a serious issue. We have addressed it with honesty and transparency,” he told Bloomberg TV last month. “We want to make sure we further strengthen the capability of our intelligence services to do their job — but with the necessary oversight that allows people to feel comfortable with the way they operate.” Critics noted, however, that one of Mitsotakis’ first acts when he became prime minister in 2019 was to attach the national intelligence service to his personal office. As for the parliamentary inquiry, opposition MPs said the government-controlled committee failed to summon key witnesses including Mitsotakis himself, his nephew, and intelligence staff that handled the Androulakis wire-tapping case.

“Mr Mitsotakis should be here, sitting in this chair,” Androulakis reportedly told the committee on September 30 during his closed-door testimony, which concluded the witness hearings. “I regret to see that your committee is doing too little to uncover the truth and much more to obscure it,” the Socialist leader reportedly said.__Courtesy Daily Times