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Prosecutor to investigate alleged surveillance of Greek journalist Thanasis Koukakis

The head of the Athens Prosecutor’s Office ordered on Monday a preliminary investigation into the alleged surveillance of Greek journalist Thanasis Koukakis financial editor of CNN Greece and regular contributor to local and international media outlets.

Chief prosecutor Sotiria Papageorgopoulou ordered the investigation following reports by investigative media Inside Story and investigative journalists network in Greece Reporters United.
Papageorgopoulou will seek to determine whether there has been a breach of telecommunications secrecy and, if yes, by whom.

Koukakis discovered that his mobile phone had been hacked by spyware Predator, from July 12 to September 24, 2021. The spyware was developed by Cytrox, a company in North Macedonia.

The journalist was informed of the hacking after requesting the assistance of the digital rights group Citizen Lab, based in the University of Toronto, in late March. Citizen Lab added that it could not confirm whether the spyware was used by the Greek government or a private company, according to the IS report.

Citing the 3-page analysis of Citizen Lab, Inside Story reports that spyware Predator turns a cell phone into an advanced surveillance device. “Predator is a monitoring tool that gives its operator full and ongoing access to the target [mobile] device, it allows the operator to export secret passwords, files, photos, web browsing history, contacts as well as identity data (such as information about the mobile device). It can also take screen captures, record the user’s entries [on his mobile], as well as to activate the microphone and the camera of the device. This allows attackers to monitor any action taken on or near the device, such as conversations taking place in a room. The predators also allows its operator to record text messages sent or received (including those sent through “encrypted applications).”

During the time of the surveillance, Koukakis was covering topics relating to alleged money laundering and corruption in the Greek banking sector. notes daily kathimerini.

In a separate report on April 15, Reporters United (RU) alleged it had seen documents showing that Koukakis was also under surveillance by Greece’s National Intelligence Service EYP a year before the phone hack by Predator.

According to the report, EYP had cited reasons of “national security” in the documents. RU said the surveillance started in June 1, 2020 and ended abruptly on August 12.

According to the two media outlets that reported about the scandal, there were efforts to cover up the surveillance of Thanasis Koukakis.

International media organizations have called on Greek authorities to thorough investigate the surveillance issue.

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