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Greece to ban sale of spyware as phone-tapping scandal intensifies

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Nov 08, 2022 - 03:01 AM

ATHENS (AA) – Greece said Monday that it will ban the sale of spyware after the left-wing newspaper Documento published a list of more than 30 prominent people whose phones were said to have been infected with Predator malware.

“We will proceed with a universal ban on the sale of illegal software in Greece, an act that will make Greece the first country in Europe to ban the circulation of malicious software in its territory,” government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou told journalists in a press briefing, adding that a bill would soon be submitted to parliament.

Oikonomou noted that the newspaper presented allegations of politicians and businesspeople being spied on, including former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and several top ministers of the current New Democracy government, without the required documentation to back up the claim.

The list also included main opposition Syriza lawmakers like Olga Gerovasili as well as prominent journalists.

The spyware scandal has shaken the Greek political scene, drawing strong reactions from opposition parties as well as the European Union.

The editor-in-chief of Documento, Kostas Vaxevanis, visited the Supreme Court on Monday in order to submit material relevant to the allegations after Supreme Court Prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos ordered a preliminary investigation into the matter.

The journalist association expressed its intense concern over the stormy developments in the wiretapping scandal while at the same time taking shots at both the Mitsotakis government and the Justice Department.

Surveillance scandal

On Aug. 8, Mitsotakis acknowledged that Nikos Androulakis, the leader of the opposition PASOK-KINAL party, was wiretapped by Greece’s National Intelligence Service (EYP) but denied knowledge of the operation.

The scandal first emerged on Aug. 4 when Panagiotis Kontoleon, then-head of the EYP, told a parliamentary committee that the EYP had been spying on financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis. After giving the testimony, Kontoleon resigned.

A parliamentary probe was launched after Androulakis complained to top prosecutors about an attempt to hack his mobile phone with Predator spyware.

Opposition parties blame Mitsotakis for the scandal and have called for his government to hold snap elections, something he rejects.

The European Commission and European Parliament are closely monitoring developments related to the scandal.

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