NEWS

Espionage theory back

A former chief of Greece’s secret service told a parliamentary committee yesterday he believed an intelligence agency with good access to mobile phone companies was behind the recent case of phone tapping. The comments by Pavlos Apostolidis, who led the National Intelligence Agency (EYP) between 1999 and November 2004, again raised questions about whether a foreign secret service was involved in the operation. «It was an intelligence agency which had access to more than one mobile telephony company,» Apostolidis told the panel of MPs, who are examining how 104 mobile phones were tapped during a period beginning around the Athens Olympics in August 2004 and ending in March 2005. Apostolidis did not indicate which intelligence agency might have been involved. But he said that it was unlikely that just 104 phones were tapped. «I believe the list of surveillance targets is incomplete as far as terrorism suspects are concerned,» the former EYP chief said. Apostolidis said that before the Olympic Games, foreign intelligence services had told him they were sure all the mobile phone service providers in Greece had the technology to allow agents to legally eavesdrop on conversations. But, he added, the firms themselves would not confirm this when they all met with EYP officials. «My impression at the June meeting (in 2004) was that nobody wanted to admit to this in front of each other,» Apostolidis said. Meanwhile, the current EYP chief, Yiannis Korandis, seemed to dismiss suggestions made last week that the «shadow» phones which were used to record conversations had received text messages from abroad. The Communications Privacy Protection Authority (ADAE) – the watchdog which is also investigating the matter – told MPs that the phones had received SMS messages from the USA, Great Britain, Australia and Sweden. Korandis said EYP had found no evidence to support this but the agency did discover that one phone had received three calls from the USA, another phone received six calls through the Inmarsat satellite network, and a third «shadow» phone was used to make three very brief calls to Albania.