Greece bans sale of spyware amid wiretapping scandal

Greece bans sale of spyware amid wiretapping scandal

Greece bans sale of spyware amid wiretapping scandal

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will soon ban the sale of spyware, the Greek government said on Monday, after a press report said more than 30 people, including ministers and businessmen, had been subjected to state scrutiny with phone malware.

On Sunday, the left-wing newspaper Documento published a list of people whose phones were allegedly infected with the malware Predator, citing two sources who played a role in monitoring on behalf of the conservative government.

Government spokesman Giannis Okonomou said the report that the government was behind the spyware monitoring was “baseless”. He said the Greek state had not used or purchased any such spyware and added that judicial authorities would investigate the latest report.

He told reporters that Greece would soon submit a bill to parliament banning the sale of spyware. “We will not allow any shadow to remain on the issues that poison Greek society,” he said.

The Documento report was the latest development in the wiretapping scandal that has caused a political furore in Greece, as the European Union takes a more serious look at the use and sale of spyware. The Greek prosecutor launched an investigation earlier this year.

Most of the alleged targets, including the former conservative prime minister and the current foreign and finance ministers, declined to comment or told the newspaper they were not aware of the matter.

In July, Socialist opposition leader Nikos Androllakis filed a complaint with the court’s top prosecutors about an attempt to wiretap his mobile phone with surveillance software. The government, which faces a 2023 election, said at the time that the surveillance was legal as the attorney general approved it.

The Greek public prosecutor is also investigating a journalist’s allegations that his smartphone was infected with surveillance software in an operation by the Greek intelligence service.

A special European Parliamentary Committee (PEGA) investigating the use of Pegasus and similar surveillance spyware concluded a visit to Greece and Cyprus last week.

“This matter must be urgently and fully clarified before next year’s elections,” Sofia N. Te Field of the commission’s delegation told reporters in Greece.

(Reporting: Rene Maltezo and George Georgopoulos, Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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