EXCLUSIVE – Greece: The Cradle of Democracy in the year 2022, where some are still…LISTENING IN!

EXCLUSIVE – Greece: The Cradle of Democracy in the year 2022, where some are still…LISTENING IN!

A complete and thorough rundown of Greece’s wiretapping scandal with exclusive intel from GreekNewsOnDemand.com!… 

-by John Kountouris | 17 Aug. 2022 | 13:25 | Athens, Greece | Find me on Social Media!: Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • LinkedIn • Youtube

With the help of our high-level sources from within the Greek government and other Greek agencies, we present to you the following report on just exactly what transpired in this Greek wiretapping fiasco which has the Greek government reeling and Greek people…UP IN ARMS!…

Here is a run-down of the facts so far as accepted by the Greek State and which has led to the resignations of both the Director of the Greek Intelligence Agency (EYP), Mr. Panagiotis Kontoleon, and that of the Chief of Staff of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Mr. Grigoris Dimitriadis. Our sources from within the Greek government and Greek intelligence are impeccable on the matter:

A Journalist by the name of Thanasis Koukakis was being “legally” tapped by Greek Intelligence (hence forward EYP). When he himself suspected that he was being monitored and reported this to the Greek Independent Authority for Ensuring the Privacy of Communications, the “legal” monitoring by EYP is stopped. Strangely enough, though, the illegal “Predator” software (with ties to an Israeli company and intelligence) begins to tap his phone.

Also, politician by the name of Nikos Androulakis, who is the party head of the PASOK party in Greece, is “legally” monitored by EYP, supposedly without the knowledge of the Prime Minister, Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and that according to his own statement on the matter. Let it be noted that it is EYP that reports DIRECTLY to the Greek PM himself, which is rare in European Union countries!

The attempts at wiretapping Androulakis’ phone are disrupted two days after he’s declared Leader of the Lesser Opposition party PASOK. Paradoxically, an attempt is made at the same time to tap him with the illegal ” Predator “ software.

Otherwise, according to official announcements, EYP does not use “Predator.” Indeed, it has no need of it if it does “legitimate” wiretapping. But was it satisfied in using only these? How coincidental is the fact that, in both cases, the “legal” surveillance was followed, in time, by an illegal one? It should be noted that the “operational” capabilities of the two monitoring methods are essentially different. By using the “legitimate” wiretapping, the EYP just listens. However, the user of the “Predator” both listens, sees and records. He intercepts photos, videos and sms stored on an individual’s mobile phone. If someone, for example, wants to blackmail someone, photos and videos are clearly a more effective weapon than words.

First observation: We put the word legal in quotation marks. Why is it important that the EYP officials and the competent EYP Prosecutor, Ms. Vlachou, who approves the lifting of the confidentiality clauses on communications, explain with what indications of danger to national security did the first request get approved and the second one, which, initially, gave permission to monitor the phone of a journalist and a politician, afterwards? The formal legality (application – permission/order from the Prosecutor) is not sufficient if there was no substantial reason for the specific monitoring. Also, it must be clarified whether the Prosecutor’s order mentions the name of the Leader of the Minority Opposition (PASOK). Did she know who she was giving surveillance permission for or was she just presented with phone numbers, which unfortunately happens in such requests? If she was simply presented with a simple number or mobile phone numbers with insufficient justification, then we are, obviously, also talking about deceiving the prosecution by a concealing of the truth. Of course, the Prosecutor is also responsible for such a thing because if they give her only the numbers, she should NOT give her approval if they are not accompanied by the name of the user.

The facts here are clear: In the case of the “legal wiretapping” some people simply did not do their job well. Consequently, they did not move within the framework of the law. Did this, therefore, happen in just two cases or in many others as well?

Second observation: Ever since this scandal came to light, Greek government officials have engaged in an attempt to downplay the rapping of Mr. Androulakis’s cell phone with the “Predator” software.

Some tried to convince us that this kind of entrapment attempt happened to other MEPs as well – without being able to name even one of course – and they also went as far so far as to present the illegal wiretappings (with “Predator”) as something that has been going on for years in our country where national intelligence services of other countries and various business interests are involved.

Thus, if in this manner the country were in such a precarious position, obviously government accountability would still exist, perhaps even more so than the liability due to the surveillance of a single journalist and politician. The fact that those engaging in such mental gymnastics were not a bunch of supposed naive politicians, made the whole affair all the more curious.

The events that followed both until the revelation of the scandal and after it are telling. The Leader of the Minority Opposition (PASOK) files a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office of the Supreme Court of Greece as soon as he is informed by the competent service of the European Parliament of the wire-tapping attempt on his mobile phone by the “Predator” software.

The Institutions and Transparency Committee of the Greek Parliament then meets where EYP’s head in called to account regarding all of this and states that his service had nothing to do with “Predator,” but, then, hides the fact that he was monitoring Androulakis from PASOK. The latter forwards the indictment report to the constitutionally protected independent Authority for Ensuring the Privacy of Communications and within a few days it finds that, indeed, his mobile phone was being monitored by EYP as part of a “legal wire-tapping.” ADAE, then, informs the Greek Prime Minister. From that moment on  the Greek government—which until then was curiously trying to downplay the issue—chose the “light”approach tactic.

The Prime Minister dismisses the EYP head as well as the Secretary General of the Prime Minister (which is his own nephew) and apologizes to the Leader of PASOK. For reasons that must be explained, the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Mr. Isidoros Dogiakos, is, personally, conducting a preliminary examination, not about who tried to tap the cell phone of the President of PASOK, but about which EYP and ADAE officials and “leaked” (?) this.

Observation three: Panic is the worst advisor.

In this context, some, in order to justify the monitoring of the cell phone of the President of PASOK, claims that all this happened at the request of foreign authorities. This is because Androulakis was a member of a committee of the European Union on matters of cooperation between the EU and China.

Is it possible because of this status that the monitoring was allowed? First of all, since when do we, uncritically, do what third parties ask of us at the expense of Greek citizens? Second, this narrative creates a major problem in our relations with Brussels. We approved the monitoring of a member (or members) of a European body because foreign states want to know what the EU was doing with China? Did we agree to hoodwink the European family of which we claim to be members? The fact that the diplomatic authorities of the countries (Ukraine and Armenia) that the leaks “showed” denied any involvement in the tapping doesn’t matter as much. The falsity of the claim was equated with its provocative contradiction.

Observation four: The whole discussion today about EYP’s “legitimate” eves-droppings is disorienting to say the least.

During the same period, the illegal software “Predator” had the same targets (Koukakis – Androulakis). How coincidental was this? Why did the intelligence services of other governments and “unknown” individuals target the same people? And why is EYP unable to identify these strangers? Counter- espionage is one of the main responsibilities of EYP. How is it possible to allow espionage at the expense of an investigative journalist and a Greek MEP and Leader of the Minority Opposition? How is it possible that it cannot identify where, when and to whom the specific software was sold, when the company that sold it (Intellexa AE) is based in Athens and can be informed of a lot concerning its owner by asking the Cyprus authorities? It should be noted that as early as December 2021, the company Meta (owner of Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.), as well as the lab Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto publicly announced that the illegal surveillance software “Predator” has been detected operating in Greece.

In the end, are our variously named leaders incompetent or just plain liars? Can they do the job assigned to them by organized society or are they simply content to “listen passionately to our every moment,” to paraphrase an old and at the same time “prophetic” advertisement of a mobile company telephone.

The newly established KETYAK

Therefore, under the microscope of the Prosecutor’s Office, but also of the political parties, is the newly established KETYAK of EYP.

This is the Center for Technological Support, Development and Innovation, which was created one year after the elections of 2019, on July 9, 2020, with a amendment (390-3), passed midnight, to an unrelated bill at the time with which it was designated as an independent agency within the already independent EYP. From the day of its establishment, the KETYAK was covered in a veil of secrecy as it was not housed in the EYP offices in Katehaki but in separate offices created for it in Hagia Paraskevi (address: Gravias 4), it reported directly to the head of EYP, the one who resigned in this case, Panagiotis Kodoleon, and had as its objective research and cooperation efforts with “research bodies in Greece and abroad”.

What is even more important in the case of KETYAK is that according to a 2020 amendment, it can enter into confidential contracts with institutions, companies and natural persons, which will be published as confidential. In other words, with complete opacity, since as it is typically stated that “the acts in question are not published in the official Government Gazette and are not posted in Diaugeia (Ministry of Digital Governance).”

In a subsequent article of the amendment, it was stated that “a special account entitled “special account for technological development and innovation (ELTAK)” with its own separate VAT number and stamp, through which programs and projects carried out by KETYAK can be financed” and that “with a joint decision of the minister responsible for the budget and the head of EYP, the issues related to the administration and control bodies, the way of receiving and disposing of the funds are defined” and, finally, “this decision is confidential and is shall not be published in the government gazette.”

With the, as of November 2020, Presidential Decree 96, KETYAK is now developed even further. It acquires its own Internal Operating Regulations and four units are established within it: one that manages ELTAK, one that manages NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework) programs and bears the title “strategy and planning unit,” an “organizational support unit” that sees to the secretarial and administrative matters of  KETYAK and an “actions implementation unit”, which deals with “actions” that do not concern NSRF financial programs. At the same time, a “technological strategy committee” is established, for which all we learn is that it is a 4- member group without any other information, as everything is under a regime of complete opacity. 

It is even worth noting that the deputy director of the financial services of EYP/KETYAK, Mr. Dionysis Melitsiotis, is a lecturer of Physics, who was the director of the political office of Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the government of PM Antonis Samaras. Since the dismissal of Grigoris Dimitriadis and the head of the EYP, Panagiotis Kontoleon, at least two KETYAK executives have already left the service. Specifically, according to press reports, the former deputy director of Directorate B of Information Collection and Analysis (DI.SY.A.P. – B, former Counter-Intelligence – International Counter-Terrorism – Organized Crime), Mrs. Evangelia Georgakopoulou, who served for a number of years at a post in EYP and in the last months was present daily at the offices of KETYAK in Agia Paraskevi, was moved from her post on Monday (15 Aug. 2022) and has been assigned to a post in the Sports Violence Department of EL.AS Security (Greek Police). 

The “hot” question

With the non-transparent mode of operation of KETYAK , the question that is formed around the illegal surveillance and which will certainly occupy the work of the Investigative Committee of the Greek Parliament when it is established, is simple:

Has KETYAK bought or entered into any secret contract with the companies that market the “Predator” malware (since they are not published anywhere with legal cover)?

More or less, the same facts were listed by the well-known journalist Tasos Telloglou after his visit to the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, explaining in his statements how one can take advantage of Predator: 1. By buying it, 2. By renting it from a company that has it in order to do this monitoring, 3. By purchasing a certain number of wiretapping phones per month.

It is worth noting that Mr. Michalis Katrinis President of PASOK’s parliamentary group, in an interview he gave yesterday to the Greek TV channel Open, among other things, noted that: “”Here it is proven that there was a system within the Maximos Palace –whose personal, family, friendship, professional and other kinds of relationships (with various companies, which allegedly signed contracts with EYP’s Center for Technology, Innovation and Development) should be investigated–about which we must be informed at some point. Let’s see what the relationships of this shadowy system, which thinks it can monitor politicians, journalists and businessmen and use this information illegally and irregularly, are all about.”

Generous funding from the Recovery Fund

It is worth noting that on January 17, 2022, KETYAK secured, as the implementing body, broad funding in the amount of 40 million euros from the funds of the Recovery Fund (EU).

Of the 40.4 million euros, 14 million concern a credit for the current year (i.e. 2022). 

The project, which KETYAK was called upon to implement, after the relevant approval, was named “Cybersecurity Strategy and policies in the Public Sector and creation of a National Center for Cybersecurity Operations.”

Here is the relevant decision: