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Mitsotakis seeks to deflect parliamentary attacks over Greek spy scandal

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday sought to deflect increasingly heated attacks in parliament over a spiraling phone-tapping scandal by accusing unidentified foreign entities of trying to destabilize the country amid an energy crisis and increased threats from Turkey.

Earlier this month, Greece's spy chief and the government's general secretary lost their jobs after revelations that the phone of an opposition leader, Nikos Androulakis, had been tapped. In a labyrinthine case, Mitsotakis' center-right government admits that the intelligence service conducted this legal wiretapping, but is denying any involvement with what it calls separate illegal cases, in which Androulakis and journalists were bugged with spy software called Predator. 

During a heated parliamentary session on Friday, Mitsotakis dug in and refused to answer the key question of why the phone of Androulakis, head of the center-left Pasok party, had been bugged. Alexis Tsipras, leader of the biggest opposition party, the left-wing Syriza group, slammed the hack as a "criminal act" and said that Mitsotakis' handling of the case should lead to his resignation. 

[...]

Mitsotakis also insisted he was personally unaware of the wiretapping and that he would not have approved it had he known. “No prime minister can be aware of who EYP taps,” he said.

Greece’s National Intelligence Service does, however, report directly to the prime minister’s office, according to a change in legislation voted in by the ruling New Democracy government.

The biggest cowardice is not to accept political responsibility and say 'It's not my fault, it's my nephew's fault,'" Tsipras replied, referring to the fact that the government's general secretary, who resigned because of the scandal, earlier this month was Mitsotakis' nephew.

That is what you plead, that you are so irresponsible and so inadequate that even your closest associate, even your closest relative was operating in such serious matters without your knowledge,” he added.

[...]

In April, financial journalist Thanassis Koukakis said he had been notified by digital rights group Citizen Lab that his phone had been the target of surveillance by Predator software from July to September 2021. The government also admitted during a closed parliamentary session that he was also under survaillance by EYP, according to several lawmakers present in the session. Athens, however, separately denies any connection with the Predator software. 

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