NEWS

Whose phones were tapped

«I don’t believe I’ve ever dealt with a worse crisis in my life,» was what National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos reportedly said to his close associates after the news broke – during the ministers’ televised press conference – that the phone-tapping operation had been based in an area of Athens in which the embassies of nearly all Greece’s major allies are situated. Spiliotopoulos not only did not know about the phone tapping, but according to reliable sources, when the list of the names of those whose phones had been under surveillance was released, he asked the relevant armed forces authorities to investigate. Shortly beforehand, Voulgarakis had announced on television that the mobile phones of nearly all the Defense Ministry’s political and military leadership were among those tapped. However, this was not confirmed in the list of names he subsequently released. The military services eventually found five numbers: – One belonging to the former minister, Yiannos Papantoniou. – Another used by Spiliotopoulos when he had been an opposition deputy and now used by his associates for their contacts with the electorate in Achaia. – The third was a pay-as-you-go phone which, in 2001, had belonged to the security detail of the then-minister. – The remaining two were phones used by two senior navy officers: Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Margaritis Tzavaras and the A2 naval officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, none of this is in line with the impression first given. Moreover, the Defense Ministry’s senior political and military leadership communicates with four separate types of encoded telephones, which are not only very difficult to tap but have nothing to do with mobile telephones. According to official sources, nothing in the country’s defense system was affected by the phone tapping. According to associates of the defense minister, he was so enraged at the revelations that he was considering calling a press conference himself to explain that what his fellow cabinet members had been saying was even more harmful than any phone-tapping at the ministry. On Friday and Saturday, Spiliotopoulos was in Munich for the 42nd International Security Conference, where he had to explain the situation, as did Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis in Athens, to the country’s major allies and to NATO.