NEWS

Foreign link in tapping

Mobile phones used to eavesdrop on high-ranking government officials were also in contact with a number of foreign countries, the head of the watchdog investigating the affair told a parliamentary committee yesterday. Andreas Lambrinopoulos, the president of the Communications Privacy Protection Authority (ADAE), said several of the phones had either received or been used to send text messages or make calls to the USA, Great Britain, Australia and Sweden. The revelation brings to the fore the theory that foreign secret services were involved in the operation that resulted in mobile phones belonging to the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, several ministers and tens of others being tapped. Lambrinopoulos said this team had discovered that some of the Vodafone pay-as-you-go mobile phones used to listen in on conversations had been used to call three cell phones on the TIM Hellas network on June 29, 2004. ADAE found that the TIM phones had been activated 20 days earlier and that they were acting like the Vodafone «shadow» phones. The TIM phones only operated for a month but several calls to the USA were made on them, Lambrinopoulos said. A text message was also sent from one of the phones to two other mobile phones in the US state of Maryland, which is also where the National Security Agency is based. Lambrinopoulos said ADAE had been afraid of calling the numbers to find out who they belonged to. «We were scared. This is something that the Foreign and Justice ministries should investigate,» he told MPs. The watchdog chief also revealed that the 14 Vodafone mobile phones used to monitor conversations had received text messages from Australia, Great Britain, Sweden and the USA. The current and former directors of the Greek National Intelligence Agency (EYP) have been asked to appear before the parliamentary committee on Wednesday.