In an attempt to limit the political damage caused by the allegations, Mitsotakis said in a televised address to the nation on Monday that while the surveillance operation was legal, “everything was done according to the law, it was wrong. I didn’t know about it and I will never allow it.”
“The Greek intelligence service underestimated the political dimension of this action,” Mitsotakis said, adding, “This should never have happened.”
The scandal first broke last week when Nikos Androlakis revealed that he had been informed by the European Parliament of an attempt to bug his mobile phone with surveillance software.
He subsequently filed a complaint with Greece’s Supreme Court about “attempted” spying on his cell phone.
Further investigation showed that Greece’s National Intelligence Service (EYP) phone was intercepted over a three-month period in 2021, in addition to the attempted hacking, as confirmed by the Greek Prime Minister.
“I never expected that the Greek government would spy on me using dark practices,” Androlakis said in a televised speech on Friday.
According to a statement from Mitsotakis’s office sent to CNN, the EYP chief resigned on Friday “following irregularities found in lawful wiretapping procedures.”
The Secretary General of the Prime Minister’s Office, who reports to the EYP, has also resigned.
Androlakis was elected leader of centrist PASOK, the third largest party in the Greek parliament, in December 2021.
He has urged the Greek parliament to set up an investigative committee to look into possible political responsibility.
The main opposition left-wing Syriza launched a scathing attack on the government citing the “Greek Watergate moment”. Greece faces an election year in 2023.
The EYP reports directly to the Prime Minister’s Office under legislation passed when the current government took office.
In a speech on Monday, Mitsotakis announced measures to further strengthen the legal framework, oversight and transparency in the EYP, and said the contribution of the EYP is crucial and cannot be hidden by this kind of error.