Opposition leaders united in slamming government over phone tapping scandal

leader Nikos Androulakis KINAL

The government tried to get in touch with Nikos Androulakis on the phone-tapping issue, but the PASOK-KINAL leader "chose not to respond," government spokesman Yiannis Economou said on Friday, following the furore created by the resignation of two of the prime minister's key appointees.

Androulakis, who as MEP was notified by the European Parliament of phone tapping attempts, filed a charge with Greece's Supreme Court 10 days ago. The issue was discussed behind closed doors by MPs, ministers, and intelligence officials in Parliament on July 29.

In his statement on Friday, Economou said, "As soon as the case of the legal intrusion - following the approval of a prosecutor - concerning Androulakis came to the prime minister's knowledge, the government sought to brief him fully through (State Minister Giorgos) Gerapetritis, but Mr. Androulakis chose not to respond."

The government spokesman added, "According to PASOK leaks, there are calls for the reconvening of the Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Standing Committtee."

"The government responds positively to this request, hoping that Mr. Androulakis will respond this time and be there in person, so that he can be informed and receive answers about all the particulars regarding the legal intrusion that concerns him - answers that leave no room for arbitrary conclusions and conspiracy theories."

Regarding the opposition party's demand for Parliament to convene an investigating committee on the issue, Economou said the government will respond positively to such a demand, "since the government seeks absolute clarification of the specific issues over time, under the obvious condition that all necessary confidentiality procedures are observed."

Parliament should convene an investigating committee immediately to examine the political responsibilities for the phone tapping attempts against him, PASOK-Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Nikos Androulakis said on Friday.

"It is our democratic duty to protect human rights and freedoms of Greek citizens," he said in a statement, asserting that he will "not allow anyone to use this great issue for politican gain," as it strikes against the core of Greek institutions and democracy.

Since the charge was filed, he said, the government has "systematically tried to play down the issue with a pack of media reports and false news, even by the government spokesman."

Noting Friday's resignations of the prime minister's closest associate and nephew, General Secretary Grigoris Dimitriadis, and the head of National Intelligence Service (EYP) Panagiotis Kondoleon, that followed a closed-door parliamentary meeting on July 29, the opposition party leader declared that "the attempt to silence and downplay such an important issue is now collapsing."

The PASOK leader noted that the attempts to tap his phone came in September 2021, when he was running for party leader, and called them "unacceptable for a European democracy."

All this proves that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his government "are embarrassing Greece abroad," he stressed, urging Parliament to set up an investigative committee.

PASOK-Movement for Change parliamentary representative Kostas Skandalidis told Proto Thema on Friday.

"Ten days ago the Pasok leader charged that there was an attempt to tap his cellphone, which was confirmed by the European Parliament. The next day, the government rushed to Parliament to hush the issue, dropping a curtain over it," Skandalidis said, referring to the closed-door parliamentary committee meeting on July 29.

He added that the reasons the government was using to justify the resignations on Friday of National Intelligence Service (EYP) Panagiotis Kondoleon and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' General Secretary Grigoris Dimitriadis "are ridiculous and obviously incomprehensible."

Greece has "an obvious major issue of democracy and transparency," Skandalidis continued, "and the responsibility for this lies directly with the prime minister. If he cannot live up to his democratic obligations, he should call for elections."

Pasok, he underlined, will continue to "battle dark mechanisms that operate without supervision in Greece."

The resignations related to phone tapping charges by PASOK-KINAL leader Nikos Androulakis "comprise an admission of guilt and confirm the responsibility of the prime minister himself," SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras said in a tweet on Friday.

Tsipras was referring to the resignation on Friday of National Intelligence Service (EYP) Panagiotis Kondoleon and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' General Secretary Grigoris Dimitriadis. Mitsotakis accepted both resignations, which followed a parliamentary investigation behind closed doors on July 29.

"Mitsotakis ought to provide explanations to the Greek people over his own 'Watergate', it's an issue related to democracy," Tsipras said.

Also commenting on developments, Syriza spoke of "the scandal of illegal tapping of political foes and meddlesome journalists" and claimed that the prime minister "both knew of phone tapping and coordinated it."

In a statement, the main opposition party also claimed that Mitsotakis "sacrificed his closest and most trusted associates, trying to save himself," but the two resignations "prove that what the government and government spokesman (Yiannis) Economou has been saying months now were obscene lies."

Even what Kondoleon, Digital Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis and State Minister to the Prime Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis told the Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee a week age were lies, it claimed.

Syriza also lambasted what it called the government's "ridiculous leaks trying to shift debate from the illegal 'Predator' software to so-called legal tapping by EYP and to the so-called toxic (public debate) atmosphere" do not absolve anyone of his responsibilities, "which are not simply political but could also be criminal."

"Nothing will remain in the dark," Syriza asserted. "Everything will be investigated to the end, and (Mitsotakis) himself will answer for this unprecedented illegal and undemocratic post-junta deviation that he attempted in order to establish his regime," it added.

For their part, the Communist Party of Greece also slammed the spying allegation.

"The phone tapping scandal can neither be written off nor annulled with some excuses and resignations as it brings to the surface a dark environment and an institutional framework full of holes for which the Communist party of Greece (KKE) has constantly complained", Communist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Sunday.

"KKE agrees on the convention of an examination committee on Nikos Androulakis phone tapping and will contribute in the revelation of all the aspects of the case," he added.

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