A European Parliamentary inquiry has heard a group of Greek journalists testify about the use of spyware in Greece.
The inquiry was part of a Committee of Inquiry on the use of Pegasus and equivalent spyware in Greece, where the government has been exposed as having targeted journalists and opposition politicians using spyware.
The inquiry invited Greek journalist Thanasis Koukakis, who was targeted with Predator spyware, Stavros Malichoudis, a victim of wire-tapping, and Eliza Triantafillou, an investigative journalist at the Greek media outlet Inside story, to speak of their experiences as targets of surveillance.
Koukakis was later ejected from the Investigative Committee after the Greek parliamentary majority voted against a proposal to hear the journalist as a witness.
“The PEGA committee has shown a sincere interest in the case of surveillance in Greece and I am sure that it will exert a lot of pressure to highlight aspects of the case that have not yet been clarified. I think this will become clear when the committee visits Greece,” Koukakis told reporters.
Koukakis spoke to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network last month after discovering his phone had been tapped using Predator, and that he was also being wiretapped.
“When you have a system like Predator, you don’t use it for just two people,” he said.
In November last year, Malichoudis found that he, too, was among a group of journalists, lawyers working with refugee cases, civil servants and even anti-vaxxers being wiretapped by the Greek National Intelligence Service (NIS).
Both Koukakis and Malichoudis say they believe they were targeted as a result of their work.
“We received questions from all MEPs from all parties, who even asked for our opinion in which direction they would move legislatively regarding spyware’s use,” Triantafyllou said of the hearing.
Triantafyllou and her Inside Story colleague, Tasos Telloglou, began unravelling the “Predator-gate scandal” in Greece in January this year. As part of their investigation, they found that 50 websites of Greek interest had been intended for use to target Greek speaking targets. The targets included journalists and also ordinary citizens.
In addition to hearing Greek journalists testify, the committee also heard from politicians.
Panos Alexandris, Secretary General of the Greek Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, spoke to the committee.
“I heard about a scandal, why is it a scandal? I don’t know if it is just because it is expressed in the press? Because some people believe so? … We [should] wait for the official results [of the Greek probe],” he said.
“The appearance of the two government officials at the hearing was deeply disappointing. They refused to offer explanations, acted as if they don’t recognise their obligation to accountability and at one point even challenged whether there is an actual issue with state surveillance of journalists and politicians in Greece,” Malichoudis said.
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