By Ahmet Gencturk
ANKARA (AA) - A former minister with the ruling Nea Dimokratia (ND) party said Wednesday that a surveillance scandal has severely harmed democracy in Greece.
“If the scandal is properly investigated, I am sure we will find out (Prime Minister Kyriakos) Mitsotakis is wiretapping his own Cabinet ministers as well,” Savvas Tsitouridis, who was Labour Minister in 2004 and Minister of Rural Developments from 2006 - 2007 in the ND government, told the Sto Kokkino radio station.
He praised former President Prokopis Pavlopoulos for saying Mitsotakis is politically responsible for the scandal and asserted that Pavlopoulos should be followed by other politicians and senior authorities.
Tsitouridis accused Mitsotakis of undermining state institutions by forming parastatal mechanisms and he urged all political parties and citizens to reject the government’s parastatal culture and practices.
He said what has been seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg and he is sure that surveillance cases were not limited to the opposition PASOK-KINAL party’s leader Nikos Androulakis and journalist Thanasis Koukakis.
Underlining that the government took the country’s democracy back to the military junta era from 1967 - 1974 when leftists were monitored for “national security reasons,” Tsitouridis maintained that early elections is the only way out of the crisis created by the scandal.
Meanwhile, main opposition party, SYRIZA-PS, continued throwing salvos at the government because of the scandal.
It claimed that the government is seeking to find ways to cover up the scandal.
"We have proven that the monitoring of politicians and journalists was done with absolute and indisputable knowledge of Kyriakos Mitsotakis himself. This is the fact, and it cannot be hidden by any method," it said in a statement.
Odysseas Konstantinopoulos, a senior deputy with PASOK-KINAL, said in an interview with private broadcaster, ANT1, that the government is trying to pass responsibility for the scandal to the victim -- Androulakis.
“The Greek government needs to publicly explain the reason they decided to monitor him. If he is an agent as they (government) tried to imply at the beginning, the Greek people need to know,” he said.
Mitsotakis acknowledged that Androulakis was wiretapped by the National Intelligence Service (EYP) in a televised address to the nation Monday. But he denied he knew about the operation.
“Although everything was done legally, the EYP underestimated the political dimension of this action. It was formally OK, but politically unacceptable,” he said.
The announcement followed the resignation of EYP head Andreas Kontoleon and the prime minister's General Secretary Grigoris Dimitriadis on Aug. 5.
The scandal unfolded Aug. 4 when Kontoleon told a parliamentary committee that his agency had been spying on Koukakis.
The parliamentary probe was launched after Androulakis complained to top prosecutors about an attempt to hack his mobile phone with the Israeli-made Predator tracking software.