Scandal leaves state in a mess

It’s quite a relief to see that the investigation into Vodafone, whose network hosted the controversial spy software that allowed eavesdroppers to tap top government phones, is far stricter than the initial praise by the public order minister of the firm’s CEO would have it. Indeed, evidence is growing that Vodafone executives are also involved in the case – and that will be hard to deny if the alleged suicide of Vodafone technician Costas Tsalikidis is found to be connected to the case. The culprits must be brought to justice and be held accountable for their actions. Nevertheless, the debate should not be limited to Vodafone and the possible guilt of Vodafone officials. When the people realize that Greece’s national security is at the mercy of a powerful firm they have every right to ask what the government intends to do to rectify this unacceptable situation. It is not so much the irresponsibility or corruption of private firm officials which worries people as the inability of Greece’s intelligence service to protect the privacy of the prime minister’s, cabinet leaders’ and security officials’ communications. As with the 1999 fiasco concerning Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, state officials once again have done a poor job of handling a serious political crisis that could have major international repercussions. The state is a mess. It failed to realize that the premier’s communications were being tapped for months or even years, and the private company actually notified state officials about the misdeed. Senior government officials are in the dark about the eavesdropping while ministers are at odds over the post-revelation procedure. The judicial investigation reflects a state of paralysis or failure to grasp the seriousness of the crime. Independent authorities are dragging their feet. This is not an image of a smoothly functioning state. It would be some sort of comfort to the Greek public if the apparent disintegration of the state apparatus prompted the government to take drastic measures to fix it.

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