Under the signature of the European Parliament, the Kyriakos Mitsotakis government and the Prime Minister himself are accountable to Europe and to the public opinion for the cases of illegal surveillance. Yesterday, the PEGA investigation committee of the European Parliament voted, with an overwhelming majority, for the report of the Dutch MEP of Renew Europe Sophie In`t Veld, as well as for the accompanying text containing strict recommendations to Greece.
The report got 30 votes in favour, 2 against and there were 4 abstentions, while regarding the recommendations, 30 votes in favour, 5 against and there were 2 abstentions. Essentially, all progressive forces in the European Parliament decided to put the government and Mr. Mitsotakis before their responsibilities for the wiretapping scandal, with only the European People`s Party, political family of the New Democracy Party, voting against and the extreme right abstaining.
For the first time, the surveillance in Greece by EYP (National Intelligence Service) is linked to the use of the Predator and according to the PEGA report, persons and companies refer directly to the Prime Minister`s office.
In the report, the people involved in the case, Grigoris Dimitriadis, Panagiotis Kontoleon, Giannis Lavranos, Felix Bitzios, et al, are described in detail by name, the role of each one, but also by the relationships and connections among them. At the same time, the cases of the victims of illegal wiretapping and surveillance are also recorded, such as Nikos Androulakis, Christos Spirtzis, Giorgos Kyrtsos, and journalists Thanasis Koukakis, Tasos Telloglou, Stavros Malihoudis, Elisa Triantafillou et al. The report rules out the case that the interceptions and surveillance are actions of private individuals, using the following characteristic remark: "The hypothesis that private actors are behind the Predator attacks is highly improbable, as it does not explain the selection of targets." As for the government`s direct involvement in the case, the report states that "there is no doubt that there were close connections and interdependencies among certain persons and events related to the government, EYP and the spyware providers."
A special chapter in the report refers to government interventions against institutions and persons who investigated this scandal, with the aim of covering it up. It is characteristically reported that "illegal spyware, possibly in combination with legal surveillance, is used as a tool of political power and control in the hands of the country`s highest political leadership". It is also pointed out that "journalists who exercise criticism or officials who fight corruption and fraud, face intimidation and obstacles", while "there is no protection of public interest witnesses".
In addition, 12 strict recommendations are addressed to Greece, which is asked to urgently restore the independence of the oversight mechanisms of the state, to revoke the export licenses of spyware and malware, to ensure the freedom of control exercised by the Independent Authorities regarding the complaints of the use of spyware.
PEGA also makes a strong recommendation to the government to repeal the law that prohibits the Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE), from informing citizens about the removal of the confidentiality of their communications, but also to restore the full independence of the Judiciary and the competent supervisory bodies in the direction of the full information of the victims. The government is also being called to reverse the 2019 legislative initiative that placed EYP under the Prime Minister`s direct control.
Strong as a catapult is also the statement of SYRIZA Progressive Alliance MEP Stelios Kouloglou (substitute member of the Committee), who characterises K. Mitsotakis as "Orban of the Balkans who exposes negatively the country at a European and international level”.
Mr. Kouloglou states that the report "records with absolute clarity and in every detail, the coordination of surveillance between EYP and Predator and the close ties among the government, EYP and private individuals who illegally trade spyware and leads directly to the core of the Prime Minister`s office". He also points out that the report refers in a scathing manner to "the government`s attempted cover-up through an amendment brought to a vote by Mr. Panagiotis Pikramenos, vice president of the government, and the new law which excludes victims from being informed on surveillance against them and calls for a return to the previous status".
The SYRIZA-P.A. MEP also underlines that "even if Mr. Mitsotakis claims in front of citizens and public opinion that he did not know what was happening in his office, the European institutions are operating" and he concludes: "The findings of the report combined with the particularly negative impressions caused by a cynical attempt to cover up and refuse cooperation, brought Mitsotakis and Greece, in the same category as the far-right governments of Hungary and Poland. He is an ‘Orban’ of the Balkans who exposes negatively the country at a European and international level”.