Greek opposition leader under surveillance says victim of political conspiracy

ANKARA

A Greek opposition leader who has found himself under state surveillance has said he is the victim of a political plot orchestrated by the prime minister and his underlings, local media reported on Wednesday.

The reason for the surveillance, which the government has so far refused to disclose, was blackmail, Nikos Androulakis, the leader of Greece’s third political party, told SKAI, one of the country’s main radio stations.

To that end, he said, they wanted to use the Israeli-made Predator spyware that can access not only phone conversations and messages, but also personal files stored on cellphones.

Androulakis reiterated that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is personally responsible for his surveillance by the National Intelligence Services (EYP).

But he still tries to blame the victim, Androulakis claimed.

Androulakis also denied Mitsotakis’ argument that he refused to be informed by the government about the surveillance, saying, “No relevant agency has ever asked to inform me officially.”

Androulakis also stressed that he would take his case to the European Court of Human Rights and bring a case against Panagiotis Kontoleon, the former intelligence chief.

Meanwhile, Nasos Iliopoulos, the former deputy labor minister and spokesman for the main opposition party SYRIZA-PS, told state broadcaster ERT that covering up the scandal, instead of answering questions from the opposition and the public, has been the main concern of the government.

Referring to local media that the intelligence agency was ordered to destroy surveillance equipment, he said the government had not pushed back against those claims.

Iliopoulos also said the government used national security and pride talking points to cover up the scandal.

He also argued that the European People’s Party, of which the ruling Nea Dimokratia (ND) party is a member in the European Parliament, is blocking hearings on Androulakis by an appropriate committee.

“What exactly are they afraid of?” Iliopoulos asked.

-Surveillance scandal

In an address to the nation on August 8, Mitsotakis acknowledged that Androulakis had been wiretapped by the intelligence agency, but denied knowledge of the operation.

“It was formally acceptable but politically unacceptable,” he said.

The announcement follows the resignation of EYP leader Kontoleon and Prime Minister General Secretary Grigoris Dimitriadis on August 5.

The scandal unfolded on August 4 when Kontoleon told a parliamentary committee that his agency had spied on financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis.

The parliamentary inquiry was launched after Androulakis complained to leading prosecutors about an attempt to hack into his cellphone with the Israeli-made Predator surveillance software.

Opposition parties blame Mitsotakis for the scandal and have called on his government to hold early elections, which he rejects.

The European Commission and European Parliament said they are closely following developments related to the scandal.

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