Sixteen prominent legal experts blast chief prosecutor’s intervention on ADAE

Sixteen prominent legal experts blast chief prosecutor’s intervention on ADAE

Sixteen prominent constitutional law professors have strongly criticised Greece’s chief prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos after he issued a controversial legal opinion arguing that the independent authority responsible for privacy, ADAE, cannot conduct audits of telecommunication companies to find out who is under surveillance by the country’s intelligence agency.

Dogiakos went a step further and warned the members of ADAE with criminal prosecution if they continued with their audits. The prosecutor’s intervention came after ADAE discovered during a raid in telecommunication giant OTE last December that the phones of Renew Europe MEP Giorgos Kyrtsos and investigative journalist Tasos Telloglou (who is investigating the wiretapping scandal) were bugged.

“We point out that this thinly veiled threat is in no way the proper way to overcome the disagreements of two authorities of the state,” the legal experts said in their joint statement. 

They said that Dogiakos’ legal opinion makes “a series of serious mistakes,” one of which is confusing the right of affected parties to be informed of their surveillance, with ADAE’s right to conduct audits. While the latest law passed by the ruling Conservatives removes ADAE’s right to informed citizens, the watchdog’s supervising competence is granted directly by the constitution and therefore “cannot be limited in any way by the legislator.”

“ADAE has not just the ability but the obligation to conduct audits on EYP [Greece’s intelligence agency], telecommunication providers and every other actor involved to see if they are doing their job well,” the experts said, adding that the watchdog is not limited by any kind of confidentiality, even for reasons of national security.

Therefore, Dogiakos’ claim that a legislator can determine the extent of the ADAE’s authority as he sees fit, has “not the slightest legal basis.”

The experts also noted that the legality of the provision that forbids citizens from being informed for a period of three years is being challenged before the Council of State, and reminded Dogiakos that until the top court has ruled on the case, it is “inappropriate” to issue legal opinions to avoid influencing its judgement.

The head of ADAE, Christos Rammos, has defended the watchdog’s work, saying that the legal opinion “flagrantly violates the independence of the ADAE, which emanates directly from the constitution,” and announced that ADAE had set up a team to scrutinize telecommunication companies.

The joint statement is signed by professors Nikos Alivizatos (University of Athens), Evangelos Venizelos (University of Thessaloniki), Giorgos Dellis (University of Athens), Yiannis Drosos (University of Athens), Akritas Kaidatzis (University of Thessaloniki), Ifigenia Kamtsidou (University of Thessaloniki), Alexandros Kessopoulos (University of Crete), Xenophon Kontiadis (University of Peloponnese), Charalambos Kouroundis (Open University), Panagiotis Mantzoufas (University of Thessaloniki), Lina Papadopoulou (University of Thessaloniki), Nikos Papaspyrou (University of Athens), Philippos Spyropoulos (University of Athens), George Sotirelis (University of Athens), Yannis Tasopoulos (University of Athens), and Vasiliki Christou (University of Athens).

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