Greece approves new National Intelligence bill – Anadolu Agency
The Greek Justice Ministry’s “Wavering confidentiality, cyber security & personal data protection” bill was approved Friday.
After a heated debate Thursday in parliament, where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Syriza party leader and former Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras came face-to-face over the draft bill and the government’s handling of a surveillance and wiretapping scandal, the bill, relating to the operation and regulations concerning the National Intelligence Service (EYP), was approved in principle.
During his speech in parliament, the prime minister announced that only diplomats or high-ranking officers will be appointed as the EYP chief. No journalists or private managers will get the post.
The Greek leader lashed out at the former prime minister for his allegations that he had wiretapped his ministers.
“You are implying that I was monitoring a government minister? Shame on you for even implying it. Do you now feel a little embarrassed?” said Mitsotakis.
He continued to lash out at Tsipras, calling him a liar for the claim that the predator spyware was operating in Mitsotakis’ office.
“The government did its duty, it saw a problem and corrects it institutionally,” said the prime minister.
“If you vote against, essentially, you say no to the upgrading of EYP, you say no to transparency and to the prohibition of malware,” Mitsotakis told opposition parties. “We are only a few months before the general elections. I insist on dialogue for the major, the crucial and not the minor and hypocritical issues.”
The debate went on with accusations going back and forth between Mitsotakis and Tsipras with both agreeing that they disagree on the handling of the scandal.
The draft is a “cover up bill,” said Tsipras, accusing his successor of cowardice and audacity.
“The characteristics of a guilty person are audacity and cowardice,” he said. “Mr. Mitsotakis hid for a month and a half and avoided coming under parliamentary scrutiny, proving his cowardice. Today, he also proves the second characteristic of guilt, which is audacity.”
Tsipras asked the prime minister to pledge that he would resign if it is proven that the EYP was monitoring ministers and the leadership of the army.
PASOK-KINAL leader Nikos Androulakis slammed Mitsotakis and Tsipras for what he called “toxic speeches.”
Androulakis said the main opposition party leader “should explain to Greek people how it is possible that during his government, a company involved with Predator — one founded with only a few thousand euros in the capital — could sign contracts with the state worth millions, while the son of the minister, who signed those contracts, was hired by this company shortly after.”
Greece “deserves something better than what the New Democracy and SYRIZA have to offer,” he said.
“No one is exempted from being surveilled,” said Greek Communist party head Dimitris Koutsoubas, adding that the unacceptable bill is now legalized and strengthened.
The prime minister and his government were also criticized by the head of the radical left Mera25 party, Yanis Varoufakis, who claimed that the bill legislates anomie in favor of the of national services.
“You are presenting the bill to show that you are doing something, but what you are doing is nothing more than consolidating the surveillance of a parallel state. But whatever you do, you are not saved, Mr. Mitsotakis,” said Varoufakis.
– Surveillance scandal
Mitsotakis acknowledged Aug. 8 that opposition politician Nikos Androulakis was wiretapped by the country’s intelligence agency but denied knowledge of the operation.
The scandal emerged Aug. 4 when Panagiotis Kontoleon, then-head of the EYP, told a parliamentary committee that the intelligence agency had been spying on financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis.
Kontoleon, along with the general secretary of the prime minister’s office, Grigoris Dimitriadis, resigned Aug. 5.
A parliamentary probe was launched after Androulakis complained to top prosecutors about an attempt to hack his mobile phone with Predator spyware.
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