Probe into wiretapping scandal suggests US link

A preliminary judicial investigation into a wiretapping system that helped unidentified eavesdroppers listen in on the mobile phone conversations of then prime minister Costas Karamanlis and more than 100 others before, during and after the 2004 Athens Olympics has uncovered links with the US embassy, Kathimerini has learned.

Appeals court prosecutor Dimitris Dasoulas called on the help of technical experts from the Hellenic Authority of Communications Security and Privacy (ADAE) to trace the 14 so-called shadow cellphones that were used to record and relay the conservations. They discovered that four of these prepaid mobile phones had been purchased from a store in Piraeus.

According to what sources told Kathimerini, the experts found that a mobile phone connection that had been purchased in the name of the US Embassy in Athens was used on one of these phones. Sources said that Dasoulas is now investigating whether any suspects who are not protected by diplomatic immunity could face charges.

Ericsson, which supplied the telephone exchange that was hacked into, and Vodafone, which was the service provider, were both fined by ADAE in 2007 for failing to protect the privacy of those who had their phones hacked, which included the head of the National Intelligence Service (EYP), several ministers and members of the armed forces, but the Council of State later cancelled these penalties.

The wiretaps were discovered by Ericsson on March 7, 2005 and Vodafone immediately asked for the software to be deactivated. Investigating authorities said that this decision prevented them from discovering who was recording the conversations, although (EYP) said the source of the eavesdropping was somewhere in central Athens.