OPINION

Crime and punishment

This was no ordinary political scandal. For sure, it was not the first time that phones of political officials had been tapped. In the past, however, it was either a case of the state spying on terrorism suspects and members of extremist political organizations or a para-state mechanism eavesdropping on political opponents. This time around, the target was officials at the very apex of the state pyramid. Because of this, it seems proper to talk about espionage and not just eavesdropping. In other words, this is not just a breach of individual rights or a violation of political principles. It is a serious blow to national security. The state must not stand still. It must not confine itself to a routine investigative procedure which is bound to lead nowhere. According to the statements made by the three ministry officials, the lengthy preliminary examination failed to yield fruit. The charges brought against «unknown persons» do not raise much hope either. And there is, of course, the decision by Vodafone Greece CEO Giorgos Koronias to deactivate the spy software before informing the government or any other independent body. It was a crucial decision because once the software was removed, the culprits knew their operation had been revealed and, most importantly, there was no way the authorities could track down their exact location. That should have been enough to call Koronias to account instead of receiving public praise from Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis. The government has an obligation toward the democratic system and the country to exhaust all legal, operational and technological possibilities to discover the truth. This was a violation of national security, so all responsible state bodies must try to shed light on the case. The scandal is too big and politically significant to be swept under the rug. The culprits must be tracked down and punished, or else the country’s image and the public’s sense of security will be badly tarnished.