Government Spox Economou: We’ve made a commitment to investigate Androulakis’ phone surveillance

Yiannis Economou

Government spokesperson Yiannis Economou began the daily press briefing on Thursday by referring to the United Arab Emirates' president's visit to Greece.

"The visit only a few days after the Prime Minister of Qatar's visit and a few weeks after the visit of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to Athens is tangible proof that Greece, a pillar of stability, peace and security in the region, is a credible interlocutor that is builiding and establishing alliances with countries of the region and consolidates the strategic opening to the countries of the Gulf," he said.

Economou  referred to Wednesday's meeting of the Greek Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee, noting that "the government, for the first moment that it became aware of the legal phone surveillance of opposition PASOK-Movement for Change leader Nikos Androulakis has made a commitment to investigating the case in the context provided by the laws and with full respect for the institutionality of the process as it is a very sensitive matter both nationally and politically.

The European Commission continues to “monitor closely” developments in Greece's wiretapping scandal, a EU official has said.

Speaking at the European Commission’s daily news briefing on Thursday, Christian Wigand, the spokesperson for justice and rule of law, confirmed that the EU received a response from the Greek authorities on the use of spyware and “possible interplay between EU data protection rules and the national security framework”.

He explained that experts of the European Commission are currently analysing the Greek authorities’ reply and “continue monitoring this issue very closely”.

Wigand also said that “national security is a member state competence” but national security services “must apply relevant EU law, including the case law of the European Court of Justice”.

A political crisis erupted in Greece after opposition leader and EU lawmaker Nikos Androulakis complained to prosecutors about an attempt to hack his cellphone with Israeli-made Predator tracking software.

Former spy chief Panagiotis Kontoleon admitted before a parliamentary investigating committee that the intelligence service was spying on Thanasis Koukakis, a journalist working for CNN Greece.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has acknowledged that the agency also wiretapped Androulakis, but denied having any information about the illegal surveillance.

A Greek parliamentary committee approved on Wednesday the appointment of diplomat Themistoklis Demiris to head the country's intelligence service after his predecessor's sacking over the spyware scandal.

Grigoris Dimitriadis, a top aide to Mitsotakis, was also forced to resign.