Greece’s conservative government splashed by alleged spy scandal

Panagiotis Kontoleon was appointed in August 2019 to this post shortly after the election of the right-wing New Democracy party of Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He resigned on Friday, due to “errors” of management in the exercise of his functions at the head of the national intelligence services (EYP), announced the services of the Prime Minister.

A few hours earlier, another government official, Grigoris Dimitriadis, secretary general of the prime minister’s office and nephew of the latter, also tendered his resignation. He is implicated by investigative media for his “links” with a “scandal” of espionage via the illegal software Predator.

These two resignations come after the revelation last week of the attempted surveillance of Nikos Androulakis, leader of the Kinal-Pasok (socialist), third parliamentary party, whose mobile phone was allegedly targeted by Predator. This is the third case of alleged surveillance in Greece in less than a year, after those of two journalists.

The Reporters United investigative site revealed that Mr. Dimitriadis “was linked to natural and legal persons directly or indirectly involved in the wiretapping case”.

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the first opposition party Syriza and ex-prime minister on the left, on Friday described the resignation of Mr. Dimitriadis as an “admission of guilt”.

The government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the alleged surveillance over the past few months, pointing out that the state did not purchase such software.

Developed initially in North Macedonia, a country bordering Greece, by the Cytrox company, then in Israel, the Predator spyware hacks the targeted phone, and can access the messages and conversations of its user, according to experts. “Predator is among the most expensive spyware, inaccessible to individuals,” cybersecurity specialist Anastasios Arampatzis told AFP. It includes “many levels of security that only a state could need”, estimated this member of the Greek association Homo Digitalis for the protection of Internet users.

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