Investigators in the wire-tapping case are now pursuing seven separate lines of enquiry, one avenue of investigation being how the illegal interceptions network also “infiltrated” the vital Hellenic Police Intelligence Division (HPiD). One of the investigation’s most critical findings to date, however, is the gradual weakening and eventual abandonment of the older, legal wire-tapping system maintained by the Counter-Terrorist Squad within the Hellenic Police, which has taken over the critical intelligence work regarding the new generation of bombers. The rationale for making change was that this service could not be infiltrated by members of the “Predator network”.
The reader will recall that the wire-tapping case is now being investigated by the Office of the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, while its legal and political impacts continue to shine an unflattering light on the country internationally. The latest impact is the blacklisting of Intellexa and Cytrox, companies associated with illegal phone tapping, but also the decision by the US not to grant visas to people associated with the illegal software.
This may well be relevant to Messrs. C. Dimitriadis, I. Lavranos and F. Bitzios, whose names have been linked to the activation of Predator in Greece. And this while the Deputy Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Achilleas Zisis, continues his preliminary investigation; at least 25 witnesses have already been called to testify (most of them victims of the wire-tapping), while the procedures for judicial assistance from abroad are nearing completion. According to the new information on the case revealed by To Vima tis Kyriakis, the following lines of enquiry are now ongoing:
Until recently, we knew the participants in the wire-tapping scandal were directly linked to the NIS, to which they had access. However, it now seems that illegal wire-tapping activities are also being investigated in departments of the Hellenic Police. According to reliable sources, following allegations made by uniformed officers, senior judicial officials are now examining internal Hellenic Police documents requesting warrants to lift confidentiality in cases focused inter alia on corruption and the activities of criminal organizations. In these cases, however, the wire-tapping was to be carried out not by the NSI’s electronic “Big Brother”, but by the system of the relatively newly established DIDAP, based in Peristeri.
According to the allegations examined, in at least 10–20 of these cases, the warrants deliberately and deceptively included cell phones unrelated to the criminal cases in question on the list of telephone numbers to be tapped. This means there was a second surveillance center to serve the interests of private individuals and others, which was in contact with the Predator interception network we have known about for some time, which had already “infiltrated” the NIS. According to the same allegations, this method was made possible by the appointment of hand-picked officers to one or two departments within the Hellenic Police who were then able to request the wire taps and include the irrelevant or additional phone numbers on their warrant requests. It also appears that the wire-tapping network was also able to secure the appointment of officers to do their bidding in the HPiD’s wire-tapping network.
The “abandoned” system
The effort made by the protagonists in the wire-tapping scandal to get close enough to the NIS, and possibly the HPiD, as well (according to the information being examined), to activate those organizations’ phone surveillance mechanisms to serve their own ends would appear to have led to the old system of legal counter-terrorism investigations, which they evidently could not penetrate, being “abandoned” and downgraded. This problem acquires new significance today, given that it would seem efforts are underway to revive the domestic “urban guerilla warfare” in Greece, and the system in question would prove invaluable in the relevant investigations. The Counter-Terrorism Squad system was purchased 17 years ago, at almost the same time as the old NIS system which was replaced by a newer Italian model in in 2022. However, sources state that the Minister of Civil Protection, Mr. Michael Chrysochoidis, has been attempting in recent weeks to replace this wire-tapping system .
We already knew that both the companies and individuals accused of playing a leading role in the wire-tapping case were awarded tax breaks, which is an indication of their high level of access. However, it now appears that reports by tax officials from Northeast Attica are being investigated which attest to overt communications between these businessmen and the Prime Minister’s staff in relation to the tax authorities. These communications were entered into to influence the audits carried out by the tax offices and to ensure that the entrepreneurs in question benefited in terms of their taxation.
According to new documentary evidence gathered by the authorities, businessmen associated with the promotion of Predator in Greece appear to have traveled on state planes as part of the entourage of former government officials to countries in the Middle East. These trips were undertaken to promote our national interests and, it should be noted, were also made to countries associated with the promotion of the illegal software.
The officers of the coastguard
Thus far, the judicial investigation has focused on the role of seven to eight police officers from various departments who were seconded to the NIS during the period in question and who appear to have assisted with the wire-tapping using Predator at the secret service headquarters in Agia Paraskevi. What we did not know until now, however, is that the group under investigation included officers of the coastguard who had previously served in security services and at the Central Port Authority of Piraeus, and who returned to their posts after the scandal was revealed. The officers in question seem, however, to deny their involvement in illegal activities.
Although it is generally assumed that the police officers who were seconded to the NIS during the period in which Predator was in operation have now been transferred to marginal and inactive positions in police stations, etc., three are in fact still serving in key departments at the Attica Police Headquarters. In addition, one of the officers, who also played a key role in decisions taken to engage in wire-tapping through the NIS’s “Big Brother” system, is currently serving in a department of the Attica Police whose competences include investigating the murder of police officers and other important cases.
The investigation mounted by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Supreme Court is now focused on four separate online and offline searches for traces left by the operators of Predator and on identifying how these traces interconnect. Firstly, on receiving all the data made available through the legal assistance process and held on servers in the U.S. and Germany. These servers were used to create the fake links that infected the 100 plus “targets”, and the intention is to find out who paid for the service in question and how. Secondly, on completing the procedures involved in investigating the method used to pay the online bulk SMS companies which appear to have been used to send the infected emails. Thirdly, on collecting data from the Hellenic Data Protection Agency and mobile phone companies in order to establish how many targets the NSA and Predator had in common and their identities. Finally, on making use of the list kept by the microbiological laboratory which administered COVID tests to employees of companies associated with the suspicious software, in order to determine whether their staff also included uniformed personnel and other persons.