Author Topic: Unanswered questions 8 years on from Greece's wiretapping scandal  (Read 1756 times)

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Offline kimono

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US authorities have failed to respond to queries relating to monitoring of phones of prime minister Kostas Karamanlis and others

Scandal where phones of the Greek prime minister, cabinet and over 100 others were being monitored has returned to the public eye after Edward Snowden's revelations about the extent of the US' eavesdropping operations around the world

Eight years after it was revealed that the phones of the then Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis, government ministers and over a 100 others were being wiretapped around the 2004 Olympic Games, investigators are still no nearer to identifying those responsible.

 The phones were being eavesdropped on via software illegally installed in Vodafone Greece's systems, which allowed calls to the monitored numbers to be forwarded to 14 mobile phone numbers, or shadow numbers, creating in effect "conference calls" without the subscriber’s knowledge.

  Revealed publicly in February 2006, almost a year after Vodafone found - and removed - the covert surveillance equipment from its systems, the scandal has returned to the public eye after Edward Snowden's revelations about the extent of the US' eavesdropping operations around the world, which involves massive email and telephone surveillance and, allegedly, a sophisticated network of listening posts situated on the rooftops of American embassies and consulates around the world, including Athens.

  The Greek justice system has requested the assistance of the US authorities in its investigation, but have received no response.

  Only two people are facing peripheral charges in relation to the case. Last week, it was announced that a former Pasok minister, Michalis Karchimakis, has been called to testify before an investigating magistrate on charges of breaching state secrets.

 The move comes after classified Greek secret service (EYP) documents were found in Karchimakis' home, in a search that followed allegations from an EYP officer that he had requested EYP documents in 2006.

  But even though several people have been investigated since the scandal broke in February 2006 for active involvement in the wiretapping, no one has been charged.
  The investigation stalled in 2010/11, when the Greek authorities sought the assistance of their US counterparts in identifying a series of numbers in Maryland, called from a prepaid mobile phone bought in Greece

  That phone was purchased by someone claiming to be Petros Markos, who is known to have bought three prepaid numbers from a certain shop in Athens on the same day. Those four phones were among the 14 shadow phones used in the eavesdropping operation. Based on the unique IMEI of the devices, the purchaser was also linked to a SIM card registered to the "American embassy" in December 2004.

  Ongoing research

  The silence from across the Atlantic has prompted the third regular investigating magistrate, Dimitris Foukas, to submit a new request to the US authorities in connection with the 2004-2005 wiretapping scandal. That followed the merger, in August, of the investigations into an alleged assassination plot on Karamanlis and the Vodafone phone-tapping scandal.

  In early 2009, shortly before Karamanlis unexpectedly called national elections, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) tipped off the National Intelligence Service (EYP) that the prime minister's life was under threat.

  Also under way is the prosecutor's investigation into the death of a top-level Vodafone employee, Costas Tsalikidis, 39, who was found hanged in his flat on 9 March 2005, five days after the company discovered the interception software.
  At his death, Tsalikidis was network planning supervisor for the company, and according to the prosecutor's findings, "Tsalikidis' suicide is causally linked with the case" of the wiretapping at his company.

  The original file into his death had been closed in 2005, but was reopened following pressure from his family, who say Tsalikidis showed no signs that he intended to take his own life. Nor did he leave a suicide note. They allege that Tsalikidis was murdered and his death by hanging staged.

  A district prosecutor, Haralambos Lakafosis, since appointed a new coroner to investigate his death, following the family's rejection of the original findings. In April 2014, he ordered the exhumation of Tsalikidis' remains.

  Tsalikidis' family are also suing Vodafone for €600,000 in compensation over what it says was the company's attempts to decouple his death from the wiretapping scandal and for insisting publicly that he had taken his own life.  

"Les hommes qui ont vécu dans les laboratoires n'imaginent guère que les partis extrêmes" -
"Men who lived in the laboratories can hardly imagine anything else than extreme parties" (Louis Aragon, 1897-1982)