The Predator wiretapping and spyware scandal has acquired new international ramifications now that the US government has slapped heavy sanctions on Intellexa and its main shareholders. It is important that the new sanctions were imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), an extremely powerful agency which sits within the US Treasury Department and wields vast powers.

Those sanctioned include Intellexa founder Tal Dilian, his partner Sara Hamou, the Greek-registered company Intellexa SA, and three other legal entities within the same consortium (Intellexa Limited and Thalestris, an Ireland-based entity, Cytrox AD of North Macedonia, and Cytrox Holdings ZRT of Hungary). The OFAC announcement refers to Intellexa SA as “a Greece-based software development company within the Intellexa consortium that has exported its surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes.”

The prohibitions

As the announcement points out, these sanctions are only the beginning, as they may be extended to those who do business, or have a direct relationship, with the aforementioned companies: “In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. Prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.” It is recalled that Intellexa SA’s second shareholder is a Greek citizen, Felix Bitzios.

The crucial issues arising from the US government’s decision are its emphasis on software exports and the use of Predator against US citizens and officials in third countries, which is becoming a major national security issue for the US. It is recalled that one such targeting has been confirmed on Greek soil: that of the Greek-American Artemis Seaford, who was under surveillance by Predator and the NSA. It is no coincidence that a CNN report, quoting a US official, points to the latest report by Google’s Threat Analysis Group, which explicitly states that Predator spyware “has been sold to the governments of Egypt, Armenia, Greece, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Serbia, Spain and Indonesia” and that this has been confirmed by Google, Meta and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

We also know of Predator exports from Greece to at least two other countries, and that, according to reports, applications for export licenses were filed by two Greek companies: Krikel (owned by Yannis Lavranos) and Intellexa SA. A document has been made public which was signed by Intellexa SA in February 2022 and states that it will act “on Krikel’s behalf to supply the intelligence system” to Sudan. The license which Intellexa secured from the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs permitting the export of Predator to Madagascar has also been published; it was signed by the former Secretary General and current Director General of New Democracy (ND), Yannis Smyrlis. The Ministry has conducted an investigation into the exports, but its results have not been disclosed.


On the issue of sanctions imposed for exporting Predator, Nikos Androulakis, who was targeted using the software, had this to say yesterday: “The US has decided to impose sanctions on Intellexa. Could that also be a coincidence?” Speaking on MEGA Channel, the PASOK president stressed that “the man who signed the license permitting exports from Greece to Africa is the current director of New Democracy. Mr Mitsotakis’ policy reveals Greece in a negative life internationally.”