Fast developments in Greece over that country’s wiretapping scandal prompted political opposition in Cyprus to call for an end to a code of silence on the island over growing suspicions of unlawful surveillance.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday said he did not know about and would never have allowed the wiretapping of the leader of the Socialist opposition party, with the premier addressing the nation days after the country’s spy chief stepped down.
“Although everything was done lawfully, the National Intelligence Service underestimated the political dimension of that particular action. It was formally adequate, but politically unacceptable. It should not have happened [and it] undermined citizens’ confidence in national intelligence,” Mitsotakis said.
Mitsotakis said that the case of the malware Predator had exposed the shortcomings of the Greek secret service and pledged an overhaul of the secret service.
'The attorney general withdrew the charges against him. Why? So that he would not have to say whom he had been told to spy on here?' the lawyer wrote on Twitter
But the news did not do much to quiet down criticism from opposition in Cyprus, where suspicions of unlawful surveillance remained high after rumors that the Cypriot government bought Pegasus, a similar malware, continued to grow.
Cypriot MEP Giorgos Georgiou, who serves as Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament’s Pegasus Committee, became more suspicious after he failed to get a straight answer from the CEO of NSO, an Israeli company linked to the island through business activities and other surveillance firms.
But last week, as another scandal unfolded involving Cyprus’ police and the prison system, a leaked letter pointed to several untapped capabilities of a phone surveillance system at Nicosia Central Prisons that would have recorded information such as uniquely identifiable information of a mobile phone, information about the subscriber’s SIM card, as well as other geolocation details and timestamps, all of which were described as capabilities offered by Pegasus and Predator.
But it was not clear whether a system at Nicosia Prisons would also record audio from conversations at a push of a button, with media pundits saying there was an Omertà from the government on the issue.
Swept under the rag, nobody resigned
Presidential Candidate Giorgos Kolokasides called on more light to be shed on Cyprus regarding allegations of illegal spying, saying while officials in Greece resigned their positions over unlawful surveillance, “in Cyprus a similar scandal was swept under the rag and nobody resigned.”
“Either the government will be forced to open [the case] or outsiders will do it for us,” Kolokasides said.
Critics have accused Cypriot officials of foul play after the state’s attorney general’s office withdrew charges in the spy van case, which was linked to the Greek scandal according to high-powered attorney Chris Triantafyllides.
Triantafyllides, who represents prison warden Anna Aristotelous in a convoluted case of corruption after she filed a complaint, attempted to connect the dots between an Israeli spy company in Greece and its previous Cypriot registration by Tal Dilian, a former commander of a technology unit within Israeli intelligence.
“The attorney general withdrew the charges against him. Why? So that he would not have to say whom he had been told to spy on here?” the lawyer wrote Sunday on Twitter.