ATHENS, GREECE (AP) – Greece’s Prime Minister said yesterday he was unaware that the country’s intelligence service had been bugging an opposition politician’s mobile phone for three months, insisting that he would not have allowed it had he known.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who faces elections next year, made the remarks in a televised address to the nation three days after a wiretapping scandal led to the resignations of National Intelligence Service head Panagiotis Kontoleon and Prime Minister’s Office General Secretary Grigoris Dimitriadis.
“What happened might have been in accordance with the letter of the law, but it was wrong,” Mitsotakis said. “I didn’t know about it and obviously, I would never have allowed it.” The National Intelligence Service, known by its acronym EYP, answers directly to the Prime Minister’s Office, a change Mitsotakis brought about himself after winning 2019 elections.
Mitsotakis said the mobile phones of Nikos Androulakis, who had been running for the leadership of the socialist PASOK opposition party at the time, had been placed under “legal surveillance” from September 2021 for three months. The wiretaps had been halted “automatically” a few days after Androulakis won the party leadership race, he said, but did not elaborate on why the opposition politician was targetted.
“Even though everything happened legally, the National Intelligence Service underestimated the political dimension of the particular action,” Mitsotakis said. “It was formally adequate, but politically not acceptable. It should not have happened, causing rifts in citizens’ trust of the national security services.”
The prime minister said that since the handling of the issue was inappropriate, the head of EYP “was removed immediately” and his own office’s general secretary “assumed the objective political responsibility” by resigning.