European court rules against Greece in 2005 wiretap scandal death

European court rules against Greece in 2005 wiretap scandal death

The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ordered the Greek state to pay 50,000 euros in damages and expenses to the family of Costas Tsalikidis, a mobile telephone company worker who was found hanged in his home in March 2005, shortly before a major wiretapping scandal involving his firm became public.

Tsalakidis’s family filed a complaint with the Strasbourg-based court in November 2014, claiming that Greek authorities had not sufficiently investigated the circumstances surrounding the death of the 39-year-old, especially after new evidence emerged in 2012 that contradicted some of the findings of the original autopsy report and police investigation.

In February 2006, then public order minister Vyron Polydoras announced the discovery of spyware implanted in the network of phone operator Vodafone that since June 2004 (two months before the Olympic Games) had targeted more than 100 Greek state officials, including then prime minister Costas Karamanlis and many senior members of cabinet. The spyware diverted phone conversations made by Vodafone’s subscribers to 14 “shadow” pay-as-you-go mobile phones, allowing calls to be monitored.

The affair assumed large dimensions both within and outside Greece, as it was linked to security measures taken in the runup to the Athens Olympics and the investigation was widely reported in the media, as it pointed to the possibility that it was part of a covert US intelligence operation in Greece.

Tsalikidis’s death occurred the day after the spyware had been removed from Vodafone’s network and the day before the relevant ministers were informed, “suggesting an association between his death and the wiretapping affair without his involvement in the case being established,” according to the European court.

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