The Greek government has sunk into a major political crisis amid an unfolding surveillance scandal, a Belgian daily said Friday.
The spying on opposition leader Nikos Androulakis by the National Intelligence Service (EYP), the country's spy agency, severely harms the conservative government led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, wrote L’Echo.
The situation arises particularly because EYP directly reports to the prime minister since 2019, a policy choice that has been contested ever since, the news report added.
“In a country where the memory of the junta of colonels – right-wing military junta that ruled in 1967-1974 is still very alive it starts to mean a lot," the report added.
The resignations of EYP chief Panagiotis Kontoleon and Prime Minister's Secretary General Grigoris Dimitriadis on Aug. 5 did not seem to have changed public opinion in favor of the prime minister, the daily said.
“And the questions remain. If the prime minister's right-hand man took political responsibility for this case by resigning, what did the head of government really know? Have other politicians been tapped? Is the wiretapping still going on?
“The government has agreed to resume the parliamentary debate earlier, but not before August 22. Until then, every day could lead to new revelations,” it concluded.
Beginning of end
Meanwhile, Dimitris Papadimoulis, vice president of the European Parliament, dubbed the surveillance scandal "the Greek Watergate."
In an opinion piece he penned for Left.gr news outlet, he said the scandal manifests the beginning of the end for the Mitsotakis government.
"In a country where everything is done by order of Mitsotakis, the prime minister in his speech insulted the intelligence of the Greek people, trying to convince that two of his closest collaborators, Dimitriadis and Kontoleon, were watching political opponents and journalists and he himself did not know nothing,” he further said.
Similarly, a report published in the daily Avgi, which is close to the main opposition party SYRIZA-PS, asserted that for the first time since the 2019 elections, the Mitsotakis government is unable to carve out a convincing narrative.
The prime minister, who was promoted as a reformer, and, leader of the anti-SYRIZA front, is showing signs of fatigue, it added.
The daily underlined that many prominent deputies and officials of the prime minister’s right-wing Nea Dimokratia (ND) party maintain silence on the matter.
In a televised address to the nation, Mitsotakis on Monday acknowledged that Androulakis was wiretapped by the state's intelligence agency, but denied he knew about the surveillance.
“Although everything was done legally, the EYP underestimated the political dimension of this action. It was formally okay but politically unacceptable,” Mitsotakis claimed.
The scandal erupted last week when Kontoleon told a parliamentary committee that his agency had been spying on Koukakis.
The parliamentary probe was launched after Androulakis complained to top prosecutors about an attempt to hack his cellphone with Israeli-made Predator tracking software.