Koronias: I knew nothing

Vodafone Greece CEO Giorgos Koronias yesterday denied all knowledge of the existence of software allowing the interception of mobile phone calls in his company’s network and directed all inquiries to the software supplier, Sweden-based company Ericsson, at a six-hour grilling by members of the Parliament’s Institutions and Transparency Committee. «It was a very complex system, because it was invisible to detection. It functioned independently of whether the lawful interception system was activated and bypassed the security alarm. We are talking about very advanced technology, which our people do not have,» Koronias told skeptical MPs. On the other hand, when asked directly if Ericsson was to blame for the surveillance of 103 mobile phones, including the prime minister’s, Koronias replied that he does not pronounce Ericsson guilty, but added that it is that company which operated the network’s central processing unit and the lawful interception software. Koronias claims that he had no knowledge of even Ericsson’s lawful software, which was used by whoever listened in on conversations for unlawful purposes when it was installed on November 10, 2002. He was not informed until March 4, 2005, he says, after problems with clients’ messaging service led Ericsson to inform Vodafone of the existence of the software. He also told deputies that the suicide of Costas Tsalikidis, a high-ranking Vodafone software engineer involved in technology operations, on March 8, was a mere coincidence and that Tsalikidis had complained to his immediate superior of feeling «very tired» and had signaled his intention to resign. The government, whom Koronias had informed on March 10, 2005, but only made the information public 11 months later, yesterday said Koronias had knowingly provided incomplete information. «The revelation of the case (to the government) by the (Vodafone) CEO was missing the crucial element of a third point of (illicit) surveillance, whatever this may mean about his credibility and the ulterior motives behind this move,» said deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.