Centre-left PASOK-KINAL leader Nikos Androulakis has demanded that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis personally answer why his phone was tapped by Greece’s EYP National Intelligence Service before and after the European Parliament MP became a candidate in the race for the party leadership, between September and December, 2021.
Mitsotakis is scheduled to issue a public explanation of events tomorrow.
Government officials have attributed the uproar to a “toxic” environment, and the PM has in the past stated that he will call early elections only if a “toxic political environment” hinders the government from carrying out its work.
The affair has by all appearances eliminated the prospect of New Democracy and PASOK-KINAL collaborating in a coalition government (as ND had hoped) if the ruling party fails to garner an absolute parliamentary majority in the next elections, which will be held under a proportional representation electoral law, and most likely even after a repeat general election if Mitsotakis fails or refuses to form a coalition government.
Androulakis in a lengthy Facebook post accused the government and “far-right elements” of “inundating the public dialogue with vulgar leaks” against him.
He also slammed the government’s move to claim that foreign countries – Ukraine and Armenia, whose embassies in Athens denied ever having made any such request – allegedly requested that he be placed under surveillance.
‘Mitsotakis has an obligation to answer’
“Mr, Mitsotakis, who personally decided to place EYP under his direct and exclusive jurisdiction and who changed the institutional framework to appoint his hand-picked candidate, Mr.Kontoleon, has an obligation to answer specific questions: Why was I placed under surveillance? Who possesses and on behalf of whom do they use the “super-weapon” Predator spyware in Greece at the expense of politicians and journalists in order to collect information and to blackmail individuals?
ND spokesman says Androulakis must say why he was under surveillance
The leader of the third largest political party also lambasted New Democracy spokesman Nikos Romanos, who in an interview with SKAI radio astonished many when he declared that it is the PASOK-KINAL leader who should have the “courage” to explain publicly the complaints that led to his surveillance, as only Androulakis will be briefed because they involve private data that is legally protected.
PASOK-KINAL spokesman Dimitris Mantzos said that Romanos’ statement suggested that he was [illegally] apprised of the reasons for the surveillance of the party leader and that he should resign.
‘Mistakes’ in handling ‘legal’ surveillance
Romanos said that the surveillance was perfectly legal but that Greece’s chief spy Panagiotis Kontoleon, and his political supervisor, the PM’s chief of staff, Dimitris Grigoriadis, made mistakes in handling the legal tapping and had not informed the PM that Androulakis was under surveillance.
Kontoleon has an undergraduate degree in management and an MBA from the UK’s Open University, but the degrees had not been recognised by the competent Greek service DOATAP as required by law when he was picked by the PM in 2019, so the government changed the law.
The dubious role of the EYP prosecutor
Questions have also been raised about the competent appellate court prosecutor attached to EYP, Vasiliki Vlachou, as it is unclear under what criteria a prosecutor could order the surveillance of a Greek politician. There is no indication as yet that Androulakis was suspected of undermining national interests, which the law under which the EYP prosecutor operates mandates.
Tsipras: ‘Mitsotakis should shut off the sewer valve’
Main opposition leader Alexis Tipras in a sharply-worded statement referred to the prime minister as a common criminal.
“While we all awaited the appearance of Mr. Mitsotakis, who as every person facing charges received a 48-hour extension to present his defence, we are watching with astonishment New Democracy’s propaganda machine operating with the rules of common blackmailers,” Tsipras said, suggesting that Romanos kicked off a slander operation.
“Mr. Mitsotakis would do well to shut off the sewer valve before he himself drowns in it,” he declared.
“Targeted ‘leaks’ about Nikos Androulakis that have been made public after ND’s spokesman launched the [slander] operation, confirm our worst fears, that those involved in the illegal surveillance employ Mafia practices.”