Greek Ex-Prime Minister Requests Censure Motion Over Spy Scandal

(Bloomberg) -- Greece’s main opposition leader and former prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, requested a censure motion against the government after he revealed names of people who were tapped by the state intelligence unit.

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“The last six months Mitsotakis is lying that he wasn’t aware,” Tsipras told lawmakers Wednesday, accusing Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of being responsible for spying on the officials. Current labor minister Konstantinos Hatzidakis was being tapped from November 2020 to May 2021, when he was energy minister, while the head of armed forces and other military officials were spied on from July 2020 to May 22, according to Tsipras.

“It is a great opportunity that you are giving us” to be able to discuss everything, Minister of State Georgios Gerapetritis said right after the motion request. The parliamentary discussion will start Wednesday and the vote will take place on Friday.

Tsipras’s comments came a day after he met with the head of the independent authority for Communication and Privacy, who handed him a letter with the findings of his investigation into who was under electronic surveillance from the state spy unit. The agency also sent the letter, which was classified, to all parliamentary party leaders, as well as to the president of the parliament and the justice minister.

The spy scandal in Greece broke in August and since then Mitsotakis has been under pressure from the opposition because his office oversees the spy agency. The national intelligence service was revealed to have been spying on Nikos Androulakis, the leader of Greece’s opposition socialist Pasok party, as well as on a reporter investigating powerful business figures.

As a result, the general secretary of Mitsotakis’s office, who is also the premier’s nephew, resigned, along with the head of the spy unit at the time. Mitsotakis has admitted that the surveillance was conducted, but he has repeatedly said he wasn’t behind it.

The operations weren’t known to the prime minister or the government, Ioannis Oikonomou, the government’s spokesman, said Tuesday. “No information and no evidence ever came to their knowledge.”

Oikonomou also called on judicial authorities to quickly “bring to light the real dimension of the case,” while accusing the head of the independent authority for Communication and Privacy for having a “strange privileged relationship” with the opposition.

The tension between the government and Tsipras’s Syriza party is expected to rise as the country heads to national elections this spring.

Elections will take place under a straightforward proportional representation system, which makes it almost impossible to have a one-party government. If the parties are unable to form a coalition, a new round of elections would need to be held about a month later, which would then be under a semi-proportional system that makes it easier to form a government.

--With assistance from Vassilis Karamanis.

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