In a democracy, surveillance of a citizen can be conducted only for exceptional reasons involving national security and only in a legal manner – with a prosecutor’s order.
When the individual involved holds a public position or plays a public role, his or her surveillance requires that the prime minister be briefed and approve it.
If those conditions are not met, then there is a problem with competent authorities, the government, which is responsible, and democracy itself.
The resignations on 5 July of the director of Greece’s National Service (EYP) and of the prime minister’s chief of staff were necessary.
In the case of the spy chief (photo, left), that is for substantial reasons. EYP’s director did not inform the PM regarding certain cases of “legal intrusion”, which is to say telephone surveillance.
In the case of the prime minister’s chief of staff (photo, right), he was responsible for oversight of EYP, hence he bears responsibility for any mistakes made.
However, the resignations are not enough, nor would a cabinet reshuffle or declaring snap election suffice.
The public has the right to know what is going on. It must know which domestic or foreign agencies, which centres, and which circles (official, semi-official, or unofficial) are snooping on citizens and why.
The reasons could be political, personal, economic, or business-related.
Whatever the case, the result is the same, and the repercussions on citizens’ trust in institutions are decisive.
Hence, it is absolutely necessary for the government to shed light post haste on this foul and dark affair.
Such a case is not unprecedented. Surveillance of citizens was also conducted in the past, and certainly on the watch of the previous government, which now is extremely concerned about human rights and the rule of law.
This does not concern only the victims of state surveillance, whose charges were not handled with the requisite seriousness and attention.
There is a nationwide public demand for transparency and it should be achieved through a cooperation between parties.
It is an issue of democratic order.