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Greek PM says he was ‘unaware’ of phone hacking of prominent politician

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stands outside Maximos Mansion in Athens, May 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)
Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stands outside Maximos Mansion in Athens, May 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

Greece’s prime minister says  he was unaware that the country’s intelligence service had been bugging an opposition politician’s mobile phone for three months, insisting that he wouldn’t have allowed it had he known.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who faces elections next year, makes the remarks in a televised address to the nation three days after a wiretapping scandal led to the resignations of the head of the National Intelligence Service, Panagiotis Kontoleon, and the general secretary of the prime minister’s office, Grigoris Dimitriadis.

“What happened might have been in accordance with the letter of the law, but it was wrong,” Mitsotakis said. “I didn’t know about it and obviously, I would never have allowed it.” The National Intelligence Service, known by its acronym EYP, answers directly to the prime minister’s office, a change Mitsotakis brought about himself after winning 2019 elections.

Mitsotakis says the mobile phones of Nikos Androulakis, who had been running for the leadership of the socialist PASOK opposition party at the time, had been placed under “legal surveillance” from Sept. 2021 for three months. The wiretaps had been halted “automatically” a few days after Androulakis won the party leadership race, he said, but did not elaborate on why the opposition politician was targeted.

Androulakis filed a complaint with prosecutors at Greece’s Supreme Court on July 26 saying there had been an attempt to bug his cellphone with spyware named Predator.

Predator was originally developed in North Macedonia and subsequently in Israel.

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