Greek President calls for investigation into PASOK leader’s phone tapping

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Greece’s President, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, has called for an investigation into the tapping of PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis’ phone by the nation’s intelligence service (EYP).

PASOK is Greece’s third-largest political party and was for decades the main political rival of Prime Minister Mitsotakis’s conservative party, New Democracy.

The phone tapping scandal broke last week amid growing concern in the EU about the use of spyware software and has sparked uproar amongst opposition parties in Greece. Mitsotakis has since said he was unaware of the phone tap, describing it as a mistake that should have never occurred.

In a statement on Tuesday, President Sakellaropoulou said that protecting the right to privacy was “a fundamental condition of a democratic and liberal society” and that respect for democracy transcends politics.

Whilst invasions of privacy by intelligence services are constitutional for reasons of national security, she said it is an exemption that should be interpreted narrowly and in strict circumstances.

Pointing to the investigation, she said: “It requires the immediate and complete clarification of the case of telephone monitoring, as well as the shielding of the operation of the National Intelligence Service.”

This comes as the European Commission has called the illegal surveillance of citizens by intelligence services “unacceptable”, and called for an investigation into the tapping of Androulakis’ phone.

Greek President, Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, EU Commission spokeswoman on home affairs, migration and internal security, Anitta Hipper said the Commission was aware of the reports.

“Our position is clear. Any attempt by national security services to illegally access data of citizens, including journalists and political opponents, if confirmed, is unacceptable,” Hipper said.

“Member states are responsible for protecting their national security and must supervise and control their security services to ensure that they fully respect fundamental rights. This is absolutely essential to ensure the protection of personal data and the safety of journalists and freedom of expression,” she said.

Hipper said it is the responsibility of each member state to investigate such matters, adding that “the Commission expects national authorities to thoroughly investigate any such allegation in order to restore public confidence.”

SOURCE: Reuters

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