The head of the Attorney General’s Office in Athens ordered on Monday a preliminary investigation into the surveillance by the Greek National Intelligence Service (Ε.Υ.Π.) of Greek investigative journalist Thanasis Koukakis, financial editor of CNN Greece.
The chief prosecutor of the capital, Sotiriya Papageorgopoulou, ordered an investigation following reports from journalists Inside Story and networks of investigative journalists in Greece Reporters United. Papageorgopoulou will attempt to determine whether there has been a breach of telecommunications secrecy, and if so, by whom.
The @insidestory_gr and @reporters_gr revelations regarding the surveillance of my phone led to the intervention of the Athens Prosecutor, Sotiria Papageorgopoulou, who ordered a preliminary examination. I welcome this development. It is crucial and important 1/2
— Thanasis Koukakis (@nasoskook) April 18, 2022
Koukakis discovered that his mobile phone was hijacked by Predator spyware from July 12 to September 24, 2021. The spyware was developed by Cytrox from North Macedonia.
The journalist became aware of the hack after seeking help from Citizen Lab, a digital rights advocacy group based at the University of Toronto, in late March. According to the IS report, Citizen Lab noted that it could not confirm whether the spyware was used by the Greek government or a private company.
— inside story. (@insidestory_gr) April 18, 2022
I was informed that the publication of the news about my phone being tracked provoked the intervention of justice. The head of the Athenian prosecutor’s office, Sotiria Papageorgopoulou, appointed a preliminary investigation.
Referring to a 3-page analysis by Citizen Lab, Inside Story reports that Predator spyware turns a mobile phone into a great surveillance device. “Predator is a monitoring tool that gives its operator full and permanent access to the mobile device, it allows the operator to export secret passwords, files, photos, web browsing history, contacts, as well as identification data. It can also take screenshots, record the user’s recordings on their mobile phone, and activate the device’s microphone and camera. This allows attackers to snoop on any activity taken on or near the device, such as conversations in a room. The Predator software also allows its carrier to record text messages sent or received (including those sent via “encrypted apps)”.
During the surveillance, Koukakis covered topics related to alleged money laundering and corruption in the Greek banking sector. cathimeriniand, apparently, went to one of the high-ranking officials or influential businessmen.
In a separate April 15 report, Reporters United (RU) stated that they had proof that Koukakis was under surveillance by the Hellenic National Intelligence Service Ε.Υ.Π. a year before the Predator hacked the phone.
Το Μαξίμου προσπάθησε να κρύψει τις υποκλοπές.
— Reporters United (@reporters_gr) April 15, 2022
As it turned out, Ε.Υ.Π. installed spyware, citing “national security” concerns. Reporters United reported that surveillance began on June 1, 2020 and ended on August 12. According to the two media outlets that reported the scandal, there were attempts to cover up surveillance of Thanasis Koukakis. International media called on the Greek authorities to thoroughly investigate the issue.
Greek authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the surveillance of journalist Thanasis Koukakis, determine who orchestrated that monitoring, and hold them to account. https://t.co/LtzKGUaiDn
— Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom) April 17, 2022
Announcement on account of the reported surveillance of our colleague Thanasis Koukakis @nasoskook:
1/9 We have noted with great alarm the reports revealing that another journalist was under surveillance by Greece’s National Intelligence Service, EYP
— Foreign Press Association GREECE (@FPAGreece) April 18, 2022
Interestingly, if the journalist did not work for CNN Greece, would his case also be investigated at such a high level?