The Greek parliament has enacted a law reorganizing the country’s intelligence service (EYP) and prohibiting the sale of spyware as the government attempts to mitigate the effects of an ongoing phone-tapping crisis.
The lawsuit has increased the pressure on the government, which faces elections in 2023. Nikos Androulakis, the leader of Pasok, the third-largest party in Greece, stated in August that the EYP listened to his discussions in 2021.
A few days before, he filed a complaint with prosecutors regarding an effort to install surveillance software on his mobile phone.
The measure criminalizes the sale or possession of spyware and elevates its private use from a misdemeanor to a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.
It also establishes a counterintelligence academy for the training of EYP personnel and a section to investigate cases of duty violations.
Only EYP and the anti-terrorism unit are authorized to request a prosecutor’s permission to monitor individuals for a variety of offences mentioned in the bill, and a second prosecutor must sign the request.
Only for national security purposes can politicians be monitored, and the parliament’s speaker must also accept such requests. Those affected by the surveillance may be told three years later, if permitted by prosecutors.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred to the measure as a “courageous institutional response” to a challenge that extends beyond Greece.
Mitsotakis, who assumed charge of EYP upon becoming office in 2019, has apologized to Androulakis, stating that despite being legal, the EYP operation was politically undesirable and that he was unaware of it.
Before the voting, Pasok alleged that the administration was looking for accomplices by requesting opposition support for the bill.