The Greek EYP intelligence service’s chief Panagiotis Kontoleon admitted during a parliamentary transparency committee’s hearing that it had spied on Thanasis Koukakis, a financial journalist who works for CNN Greece and whose work has included investigative reporting on financial crimes.
Journalist Koukakis remains baffled why he was bugged or considered a national security threat
The July 29 closed-door hearing coincides with growing pressure on the Greek government to shed light on the use of surveillance malware and was called after Nikos Androulakis, the leader of the socialist opposition PASOK party lodged a complaint over an alleged attempt of bugging his mobile phone with surveillance software.
A Greek prosecutor began an investigation in April into Koukakis’ allegations that his smartphone had been infected by surveillance software after Greece’s largest opposition party, left-wing SYRIZA, asked last year for the parliamentary committee to convene to look into the matter but was refused by the committee chairman.
Late last month, both SYRIZA and PASOK requested again for the committee to convene after Androulakis submitted his complaint to prosecutors and this time the request was accepted, and a hearing followed.
Androulakis made his complaint with top court prosecutors amid growing concern about spyware merchants and the use of surveillance software among the European Union officials, which consider the use of spyware against journalists unacceptable.
Stressing that the government has nothing to hide, Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said that Greek authorities do not use the spyware allegedly deployed in Koukakis’ hacking and do not do business with companies selling it.
Calling on the justice system to investigate the cases thoroughly, Oikonomou underscored that such malware poses a threat and must be tackled efficiently.
The surveillance in both cases involves the use of Predator surveillance software, which can extract passwords, files, photos, and contacts and activate a phone’s camera and microphone, enabling surveillance of nearby conversations.