SYRIZA: Mitsotakis responsible for "biggest scandal of the post-junta era"

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance MP Efi Achtsioglou accused Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of being responsible for the "biggest scandal of the post-junta era" when speaking to MEGA television on Sunday.

"...For almost two years the military leadership of the country was under the surveillance of the National Intelligence Service (EYP), for which Mr. Mitsotakis is responsible by his own choice," said the opposition leader responsible for economic affairs in the party.

"Mr. Mitsotakis chose to monitor the military leadership of the country, a top government minister, journalists and politicians. This responsibility is upon him as regards the violation of the Constitution but also as regards the functioning of politics and the social life of the country," Achtsioglou added.

She noted that the government had used various entirely contradictory excuses regarding this issue, with the prime minister finally asserting on Friday that the phone tappings had been legal interceptions.

"This means that there was a reason for them and not simply that the legal procedure was followed," she pointed out.

"A legal interception means that there was a reason of national security, that these people who are in charge of protecting the country's security were for two years considered a risk for the national security of the country, as the surveillance order was renewed every two months," Achtsioglou said.

"Also," she added, "whereas ruling ND had initially spoken of 'sordid networks' within the intelligence service who were coordinating the wiretapping, it now claims that the interceptions were rightly and correctly carried out.

"The government appeared to think the problem was not the surveillance itself but the fact it was revealed," the opposition member said.

Greece's conservative government on Friday survived a vote of no confidence put forward by the leftist opposition over a wiretapping scandal targeting politicians, army top brass and journalists.

Allegations of state surveillance have snowballed since the leader of the socialist PASOK party, Greece's third-largest, said last August that his phone had been tapped by the state intelligence service EYP in 2021.

But the government, which has denied any wrongdoing or knowingly wiretapping anyone, had been expected to survive Friday's vote.

"I have said that the wiretapping, or surveillance, of Mr. (Nikos) Androulakis was not politically acceptable," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told lawmakers before the vote. "There was my own, immediate disapproval of this."

The censure motion put forward by SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras was defeated by 156 votes to 143 in the 300-seat assembly.

A left-leaning newspaper reported last month that more than 30 people, including ministers, had been under state surveillance via phone malware.

Before submitting the censure motion on Wednesday, Tsipras said he and other political leaders were briefed on a separate investigation conducted by the independent telecommunications privacy authority ADAE.

Citing those conclusions, Tsipras said the government kept tabs on the energy minister and army chiefs.

"I'm absolutely convinced that the prime minister was not aware of this foul-smelling case," said former energy minister Kostis Hatzidakis, who is currently the labour minister.

A European Parliament commission of inquiry, known as PEGA, has been investigating the alleged use of spyware by European governments for almost a year.

Tsipras has not publicly said what alleged surveillance methods were used in the hacks. Local media have suggested the Predator malware programme was used, though Greek authorities have denied purchasing or using it.

A parliamentary election will be held in Greece in the spring, the government has said. Mitsotakis said on Friday he was confident his New Democracy party, which is leading in opinion polls, would win a second term.

"This government has proven it can come forward and deal with crises," he said.

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