Greece to ban sale of spyware amid phone-tapping scandal


Greece’s government says it will introduce a bill to ban the sale of spyware following media reports of a state-sponsored phone-tapping scandal that targeted at least 30 people, including politicians and business people.

“We won’t allow any shadow to remain on issues that poison Greek society,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou told reporters on Monday, adding that a bill will soon be submitted to parliament.

The move comes after left-wing Documento newspaper published a list of people whose phones were allegedly infected with the Predator malware. It cited two sources who played a role in the surveillance, allegedly on behalf of the government.

On Monday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis slammed the accusations as “an incredible lie”, adding that the report was unfounded as it presented no evidence that his cabinet was behind the surveillance.

Oikonomou earlier on Monday said the Greek state had not used or bought any such spyware and added that judicial authorities would investigate the latest report.

The Documento report was the most recent development in a wiretapping scandal that has sparked political uproar in Greece, as the European Union takes a harder look at the use and sale of spyware. A Greek prosecutor began an inquiry earlier this year.

Most of the alleged targets, including a former conservative prime minister and the current foreign and finance ministers, declined to comment or told the newspaper that they were unaware of the matter.

“It is shameful and disgusting for someone to imply that the prime minister is monitoring his foreign minister. And extremely dangerous,” Mitsotakis said.

“We are not sure who is managing those centres. What we are absolutely certain about is that it wasn’t EYP [Greece’s intelligence service]. And obviously I wasn’t involved.”

In July, socialist opposition leader Nikos Androulakis filed a complaint with top court prosecutors over an attempted bugging of his mobile phone with surveillance software.

The government, which faces elections in 2023, said at the time that the surveillance, which was not conducted through disputed spyware programmes, was lawful as it had been approved by a prosecutor.

It never specified why Androulakis was targeted, and Mitsotakis said he never had any knowledge of the hack and would never have approved it.

A Greek prosecutor is also investigating allegations by a journalist that his smartphone was infected by surveillance software in an operation by the Greek intelligence service.__Al Jazeera