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Greece reveals mobiles of PM, ministers tapped

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Greece reveals mobiles of PM, ministers tapped

Postby Sotos » Sat Feb 04, 2006 9:07 am

ATHENS (Reuters) - Unknown eavesdroppers tapped the mobile phones of Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis, five cabinet members and dozens of top officials for about a year, the government said on Thursday.

Illegal software was installed at Greece's second biggest mobile phone operator, Vodafone Greece, allowing the recording of about 100 phones, mainly belonging to the government but one owned by the U.S. embassy in Athens, officials said.

"The phones tapped included the prime minister's, the whole leadership of the defence ministry and the whole leadership of the public order ministry, some foreign ministry phones, one former minister, now in opposition, and others," government spokesman Theodore Roussopoulos told a news conference.

In what he described as "an important issue related to national security", Roussopoulos said prosecutors had brought charges of violating the privacy of telephone communications against unknown perpetrators.

A judicial investigation would also look into possible charges of espionage, he added.

Socialist opposition politicians, including former defence minister Yannos Papandoniou, whose phone was among those tapped, reacted angrily and demanded a full investigation.

"It's unacceptable that I was not informed for 10 months so as to protect my human and individual rights," he told reporters. "This is a strange case. All the people targeted were somehow involved with national security."

The wiretaps lasted from just months before the 2004 Athens Olympics until March 2005, when Vodafone Greece, a subsidiary of Vodafone, discovered the incident and reported it to authorities.

The bulk of the tappings took place around the August 2004 Athens Games, the most guarded Olympics in history with 1.2 billion euros ($1.45 billion) invested in security, Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras told the news conference.

The head of Vodafone Greece, George Koronias, reported to the government in March last year that about 100 mobiles had been monitored.

But the shutdown of the illegal software in the Vodafone system wiped out all traces of how and from where it had been installed, Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis told the news conference. Vodafone had no immediate comment.

The list of those tapped was released by the press ministry. U.S. embassy officials declined to comment on the disclosure that one mobile involved belonged to the mission.

"A preliminary investigation is completed and charges against unknown perpetrators have been submitted," Roussopoulos said. "Greek citizens have a right to know."
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Postby Agios Amvrosios » Mon Feb 06, 2006 1:09 am

Vodafone should have its operating license cancelled in Greece
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Postby Sotos » Sun Feb 12, 2006 11:37 am

Helena Smith in Athens and Conal Walsh
Sunday February 12, 2006
The Observer

Vodafone faces fines and possible legal action in Greece following revelations that its network enabled eavesdroppers to spy on the country's political and military elite, including Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
News of possible punitive action against the mobile phone giant follows the dramatic admission by Vodafone Greece's chief executive George Koronias that an employee may have played a role in installing and activating the surveillance software behind the bugging.

Koronias conceded that the tapping 'must have been' the work of an insider when questioned for two-and-a half hours by Greece's communications regulator last week. The watchdog said it would fine the company if it found it had violated the privacy code.

Vodafone has been criticised in Greece for deactivating the bugging system as soon as it was found, rather than informing the government first. Critics contend that by deactivating the device, which diverted calls to 14 'shadow' phones connected to a recording machine, the company made it impossible for authorities to trace the interceptors.

But Vodafone has denied it is at fault and pledged to help the authorities trace the phone-tappers. Koronias defended his decision to remove the spy software saying it was his duty 'towards my country and my company'.

The scandal has created uproar in Greece, with opposition politicians calling on ministers to resign over the security breach. The government has announced a full judicial investigation into what has been dubbed the 'Greek Watergate'. Last week marchers demonstrated outside the American embassy in Athens. A poll indicated that most Greeks believe the US government is behind the bugging; 8 per cent of respondents blamed the British secret services.

The unidentified eavesdroppers are believed to have monitored portable phones owned by Karamanlis between June 2004 and March 2005, as well as phones belonging to other leading politicians, military chiefs, and left-wing activists. A number of Arabs based in Greece were also bugged.

Most of the phone-tapping is believed to have taken place around the time of the 2004 Olympics, when Greece faced heavy pressure to step up security ahead of the world's biggest sporting event.

It has also emerged that Kostas Tsalikides, Vodafone's top technician in Greece, committed suicide a day before the discovery of the illegal software. Days earlier, the technician had written about his fears for the company in a diary entry entitled 'If something goes wrong'. He wrote: 'it is a matter of life or death that I leave the company.'

On Friday, Tsalikides' family filed a lawsuit against 'unknown persons' for complicity in his death. Vodafone Greece has said its employee's death was not linked to the phone-tapping affair.
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Postby pumpernickle » Mon Feb 13, 2006 12:19 am

Told you greeks are obsessed with mobiles

They probably did it just to show they could...then text all their friends about it. In the cinema. While pumpernickle is trying to watch a film.
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