By Ahmet Gencturk
ANKARA (AA) - The European Parliament's Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (PEGA Committee) issued a draft recommendation Tuesday on Greece’s surveillance scandal, local media reported.
The committee said contraventions and maladministration in the implementation of European Union law took place in Greece, according to the Avgi daily.
The draft calls on Greece to restore and strengthen institutional and legal safeguards including effective ex-ante and ex-post scrutiny as well as independent oversight mechanisms and restore the full independence of the judiciary and all relevant oversight bodies such as the ombudsman and data protection authorities.
It also urged the country to overturn the 2019 legislative change that placed the National Intelligence Service (EYP) under the direct control of the prime minister and to invite the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) to immediately join the investigations related to the surveillance scandal, according to the daily.
The ever-expanding scandal exploded in Greece last summer, when Thanasis Koukakis, a well-known financial journalist in Greece, reported that his cell phone had been tapped with Israeli-made Predator spyware.
Things escalated after Nikos Androulakis, the leader of the PASOK-KINAL opposition party and a member of the European Parliament, also revealed that he was targeted with Predator spyware, triggering a parliamentary probe on the matter.
On Aug. 4, Panagiotis Kontoleon, who then headed Greece’s National Intelligence Service (EYP), admitted before a committee of lawmakers that the agency was spying on Koukakis.
Days later, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis disclosed that Androulakis was also wiretapped but denied any knowledge of the operation.
Mitsotakis was left with no option but to force Kontoleon to resign as well as his top aide and nephew Grigoris Dimitriadis.
On Nov. 6, the Documento newspaper published a list of 33 people who were allegedly spied on by the EYP on Dimitriadis' direct orders.
They included Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolaos Chardalias, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis, Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, former Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and former National Security Adviser Alexandros Diakopoulos.
A later report by the daily claimed that the EYP, which works directly under Mitsotakis, also wiretapped Chief of General Staff Konstantinos Floros, Chief of Land Forces Charalambos Lalousis and General Director of Defense Investments and Armaments Theodoros Lagios.
Opposition parties blame Mitsotakis for the scandal and have called for his government to hold snap elections, a measure he rejects.
The European Commission and European Parliament have also said they were closely monitoring developments related to the scandal.