Gov't irked by Pangalos claims that Greece spied on US ambassadors

Claims made on Tuesday by former Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos that during his time in office Greek secret services eavesdropped on US ambassadors in Athens and Ankara enraged the government as they came on the same day as reports that the American Embassy in Athens was one of Washington’s key spy centers in Europe.

“The National Intelligence Service (EYP) carries out its mission within the framework of the constitution and the law, while respecting friends and allies,” said government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou after Pangalos, who was foreign minister between 1996 and 1999, made his allegations on a radio show. “EYP has been working for years with the equivalent US agencies and other countries to combat terrorism.”

Privately, Greek government officials expressed outrage at Pangalos’s comments, which they felt took the pressure off Washington to account for its eavesdropping of European leaders by making the assertion that Greece’s intelligence service had targeted American officials. “He made it difficult for us to seek explanations from the US,” said a Greek official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Pangalos’s claim came in the wake of German news magazine Der Spiegel citing leaked information from CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden that indicated a joint Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA) group known as the Special Collection Service operated 90 surveillance facilities worldwide, including at the US Embassy in Athens.

The Athens facility, allegedly located on the roof of the US Embassy in Athens on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, is reported as being among 14 that were operated remotely.

The Hellenic Authority of Communications Security and Privacy (ADAE), the country’s privacy watchdog, is due to hold a meeting today to discuss this report.