PEGA-UntersuchungsausschussStaatstrojaner sind politischer Skandal in Griechenland

Die Pega-Delegation beendete ihre dritte Erkundungsmission mit einer Pressekonferenz in Athen. Der Vorsitzende Lenaers und die Berichterstatterin in ’t Veld stellten sich den Fragen der Journalist:innen. Wir veröffentlichen ein inoffizielles Wortprotokoll der Konferenz.

Vier Tage in Griechenland und Zypern – aber leider kein Urlausbtrip. Europäisches Parlament

Gestern beendete der Staatstrojaner-Ausschuss des EU-Parlaments nach vier Tagen in Griechenland und Zypern seine dritte Erkundungsmission. Zum Abschluss der Reise hielten der Vorsitzende Jeroen Lenaers und die Berichterstatterin Sophie in ’t Veld am 4. November in Athen eine gemeinsame Pressekonferenz ab.

Im Gegensatz zur Pressekonferenz in Warschau im Anschluss an die Polen-Reise der Delegation im vergangenen September zeigten sich die beiden dieses Mal nicht allen Punkten einig. Die Liberale in ’t Veld veröffentlichte nur wenige Tage später auch einen eigenen vorläufigen Abschlussbericht, in dem sie unter anderem die konservative Regierung Griechenlands scharf für den mutmaßlichen Einsatz von Staatstrojanern kritisiert.

Nea Dimokratia, die Partei des griechischen Ministerpräsidenten Kyriakos Mitsotakis, ist Teil des konservativen Blocks der European People’s Party im EU-Parlament – ebenso wie die niederländische Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA), der Lenaer angehört.

Lenaers Fazit der Reise fiel zurückhaltend aus:

Nun haben sowohl die Regierungen Zyperns als auch Griechenlands Vorschläge für Reformen vorgelegt, die die Grundrechte der Bürger Zyperns, Griechenlands und der EU insgesamt stärken und sie vor Überwachungsmissbrauch schützen könnten. So informierte uns die griechische Regierung über ihren Plan, die Verwendung von Spähsoftware durch private Einrichtungen zu verbieten.

Die Frage nach der Verantwortlichkeit – also wer mutmaßlich hinter den dokumentierten Angriffen mit Staatstrojanern in Griechenland steckt – mied der Vorsitzende. Auf direkte Nachfrage verwies er lediglich darauf, dass er kein Richter sei und diese Frage daher nicht beantworten könne.

Sophie in ’t Veld fand hingegen deutliche Worte:

Ich vergleiche das gerne mit einem tausendteiligen Puzzle. Es fehlen immer noch 100 Teile, aber man kann das Bild erkennen, und es ist nicht schön und weist nicht in die Richtung der Hypothese, dass Intellexa dahintersteckt. Und es hat nie viel Sinn gemacht. Alles deutet darauf hin, dass es sich um Leute aus Regierungskreisen handelt. Auf jeden Fall Herr Dimitriadis und einige seiner Mitarbeiter.

Grigoris Dimitriadis ist Mitsotakis‘ Neffe und war als dessen Büroleiter auch direkt für die Zusammenarbeit zwischen Regierung und Geheimdienst verantwortlich. Nachdem der Abhörskandal bekannt wurde, musste er noch am gleichen Tag seinen Hut nehmen.

Unisono kritisierten Jeroen Lenaers und Sophie in ’t Veld, dass die Verantwortlichen auf griechischer Regierungsseite sich geweigert hätten, mit dem Ausschuss des EU-Parlaments zusammenzuarbeiten. Sie betonten zudem die mangelnde Aufarbeitung des Skandals in Griechenland. Insbesondere zeigten sich beide enttäuscht über die lückenhafte Aufklärungsbereitschaft im Untersuchungsausschuss des griechischen Parlaments.

Von der Konferenz gibt es ein Video, aber kein offizielles Transkript. Daher veröffentlichen wir ein inoffizielles Transkript.


  • Date: 2022-11-04
  • Institution: European Parliament
  • Committee: PEGA
  • Chair: Jeroen Lenaers
  • Experts: Jeroen Lenaers (European People’s Party), Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew)
  • Links: Video
  • Note: This transcript is automated and unofficial, it will contain errors.
  • Editor: Tim Wurster

Press conference on MEPs Delegation of the PEGA Committee to Athens

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Okay. Listen, I’m going to speak in English because we only have three quarters of an hour that was disposable. So, let’s try to make an effort to make it all in English this fast and to get the response, the opportunity to pose more questions. I will skip the background. I’m sure everybody knows from the press release that invited you here. So, you know that we’re going to have the opportunity to have with us the president of the chairman of the Packer committee and the rapporteur. And we can already start I think we have to start with a statement by the chairman.

Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): But thank you. Thank you very much. Good morning to all of you present here. And it’s good to see there’s so much interest in the in the work of our committee in the European Parliament.

Now, maybe just as a brief introduction, our committee, the bigger committee is a committee of enquiry which was established in the European Parliament to look into the abuse of Pegasus and equivalent spyware in the European Union. So we don’t focus as much on individual member states, but we look at the European Union as a whole and through hearings, through studies and to country visits like we have now just concluded in Cyprus and Greece, we try to deepen our knowledge and improve our understanding of the situation, which will then feed into the report, which will be drafted by my colleague Sophia in ‚t Veld, who will also take the floor after me. So, this is this is what we do, our delegation to Cyprus and Greece.

We consist of ten members of the European Parliament representing five different political groups and seven different member states. So, we truly look at this from a European perspective, and most of the colleagues are with us here in the room. So, they are also available for any questions after the press conference on an individual basis, should there be an interest.

Now, before I go into the conclusions of our mission and our statement, let me also take the opportunity to thank the European Parliament Liaison Office, Mr. Tsoutsoplides in particular for their hospitality in hosting us here in Athens and being able to host many of our meetings here, which was very, very appreciated.

Now, between the first and the 4th of November, our committee went on its third Fact-Finding Mission. During the four days we spent in Cyprus and Greece, we met with multiple government representatives, members of parliaments, civil society representatives, journalists, and victims. We appreciate that government representatives also took the time to meet with us and share relevant information and we learnt a lot. But we also still feel that many of our questions remain to be answered.

During our meetings we learnt more about high profile surveillance cases, for example, involving the journalist Thanasis Koukakis, MP Christos Spirtzis. And in these cases, many of the interlocutors we spoke to believe that national security has been used as a justification for spyware, abuse, and surveillance.

We’ve met with many journalists and civil society representatives who are trying to shed light on the web of connections between various spyware companies and their alleged links also to the state.

Any allegations of abuse of surveillance have to be thoroughly investigated and necessary safeguards should be installed. The Hellenic Parliament did establish an enquiry committee to probe illicit surveillance of the Leader of the Opposition party, PASOK, Mr. Nikos Androulakis. And we met with four of the parties that were represented on the committee, but we think that its investigation did or did uncover only few facts and did not hear from all the relevant witnesses.

We were surprised, as a committee, we are working towards one joint report from the European Parliament. We were surprised to learn that political parties here adopted their own separate reports rather than a joint one. And we also consider that the final committee report should be made public both for the benefit of society, as for the benefit also of other actors.

Citizens of Greece and Cyprus deserve to benefit from the implementation of EU laws that protect the fundamental freedoms and rights. Anti-Corruption mechanism, anti-money laundering laws and data protection and dual use regulations have to be properly implemented and applied. And this is important for those countries, but also for the European Union as a whole.

Now, both the governments of Cyprus and Greece shared proposals for reforms that could bolster the fundamental rights of the citizens of Cyprus, Greece and the EU as a whole, and to protect them against abuse of surveillance. For example, the government of Greece informed us about its plan to ban the use of spyware by private entities.

The objective of the reforms should always be to improve transparency and enforcement of applicable laws. The authorities should ensure proper democratic oversight over law enforcement and citizens should be given access to effective legal remedies. National security should go hand-in-hand with fundamental rights. Also, we need a robust legal framework guaranteeing a healthy, purist media environment everywhere in the EU.

This is the statement on behalf of the Commission of the delegation that visited Cyprus and Greece because I want to also like as both Cyprus and Greece said, that we conclude our mission here today. And having said that, I would like to pass the floor to our rapporteur, Sophie in ‚t Veld, for her comments.

Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): Thank you very much. I well, first of all, I would like to express gratitude to all the people that were willing to meet with us in the last couple of days in Cyprus and Greece. But I would also like to express gratitude to the Pegasus Project and to all the journalists and NGOs which have been very diligently and courageously digging for the truth and not always with public support. Because what’s at stake here is not just the privacy of individuals, but our democracy and our free society as a whole.

I would like to say a little bit more about the findings, and let me start by saying, have we found definitive, ultimate proof of who used Predator and why? No, we have not. And we will not find that proof as long as the authorities are not willing to share official information with us. So, we will have to deduct as much as we can from the context and the elements that we know so far, because we may not have all the pieces of the puzzle, but we have many.

And the image is becoming clear. Predator has been used on targets in Greece, including journalists on journalists and politicians. Some of those have also been the target of official surveillance by the EYP.

But who is using Predator? We all hear all kinds of wild speculation, most of which is utter nonsense. So, I will discard those scenarios. There are basically two scenarios that are possible. One is it is Intellexa itself for whatever reason, and the other one is that it was done by the government or actors in government circles. The question is then who chose the targets and why in detective terms, who had the motive, the means and the opportunity? So, let’s first look at the victims that we know so far.

So, let’s look at the victims that we know so far and the possible motives for targeting them. First, journalist Koukakis, who is a real nuisance to the powers that be as journalists are supposed to be. He writes about corruption and tax evasion, specifically, the gentlemen Bitzios and Lavranos. And he also wrote about controversial new laws on, amongst other things, the banking sector.

Then there’s journalist Telloglou, who mercilessly exposes the spyware scandal. Malichoudis, another journalist who writes in international media about the treatment of migrants in Greece.

Then we have a politician, Mr. Androulakis, who was at the time that he was targeted, candidate for the PASOK leadership. And from the four candidates, I believe, the one who publicly declared that he would not support a coalition government led by Mr. Mitsotakis as prime minister.

And then a recent case or recent revelation. Mr. Spirtzis, who is close to Mr. Tsipras and who is also present during key meetings with the party leadership and third parties. So, between the party leadership and third party. So, you can see, if I may paraphrase a movie title for threats and an opportunity for the government party.

Now, cui bono, as they say, who benefits. So, let’s look at some of the protagonists of the story we’ve heard about Mr. Dimitriadis, Mr. Bitzios and Mr. Lavranos, who all three have close business and personal connections.

We’ve heard about Mr. Kontoleor, the former EYP chief, who is also, by his own admission, socially acquainted with Mr. Dimitriadis. Then, theres Mr. Bitzios and Lavranos who benefited themselves from a new law from 2019 on freezing orders introduced by the new government with the results that their frozen assets were released. Mr. Bitzios is also, or was until recently, one third owner and manager at Intellexa, close to Tal Dillian, and Mr. Stanislav Peltser, former legal representative of Krikel. All three are also connected to Malta.

Mr. Lavranos, who is most probably the ultimate beneficial owner of Krikel and has benefited, therefore, from the government contracts. Mr. Dimitriadis, who is also reportedly closely acquainted with Mr. Loverdos who was formerly a minister, but who was also one of the candidates for the PASOK leadership. And he had been part of a former Nea Dimokratia and PASOK coalition.

Now, as to means and opportunity. First of all, in 2019, the EYP was brought under the exclusive oversight of the Prime Minister and Mr. Dimitriadis was responsible for it in his office. Then Mr. Kontoleor was appointed by the new government and that required a small change to the law, the statute. There was also a new head of the National Transparency Authority that was appointed, and at that time the previous government had actually abolished the true prosecutor authorisation of surveillance requests.

So that means that until the very recent change in law, that there was one prosecutor who was responsible for approving approximately 60 requests a day without knowing who the target was or what the reasons was for the person to be put under surveillance. I would call that not a meaningful judicial oversight, but a rubber-stamping exercise.

When the AADE concluded that Mr. Koukakis had the right to be informed of the surveillance that he had been under, the government abolished the right of targets to be informed more quickly than I can say κρατική ασφάλεια. National security is invoked to conceal the reasons for surveillance of Koukakis, Androulakis and others.

A parliamentary enquiry was set up as you know, but the government majority blocked the testimony of key figures such as Dimitriadis, Bitzios and Lavranos – who, by the way, also failed to answer to the invitation of this Pega committee – and the conclusions it makes will remain classified.

The EYP files of Koukakis and Androulakis have very unfortunately accidentally been destroyed. There has been an investigation by the National Transparency Authority, but that was two months after the complaint of Mr. Koukakis. And what they did is they visited the premises of Intellexa and Krikel one time. I think they investigated one year of the annual accounts of the companies. They didn’t investigate the subsidiaries. They didn’t confiscate any servers or computers or administration. So, I would call that a very superficial investigation.

Um, skipping a few points here. Now using spyware, as far as I know is a criminal offence. So, one would then expect if this has not been I mean, the government can therefore not engage in it. So, one would expect the authorities to engage in a very vigorous search for the culprit of such a serious crime. But I do not see that there is such a vigorous search for the culprit. On the contrary, on the contrary, most relevant information has been classified. And I also note that as we have learnt today, again, that both the Prime Minister and the Parliament could use their, their discretionary powers to lift that confidentiality. So, the information that is currently classified could be shared, maybe even in a redacted form, but it could be shared and we’re not getting it.

Then on top of that, I note that journalists who have been writing about this, the spyware scandals, have also been hit by massive slaps, notably by the same Mr. Dimitriadis that I mentioned earlier. Now I like to make the comparison with a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. There’s still 100 pieces missing, but you can see what the image is and it’s not pretty and it doesn’t point in the direction of the hypothesis of Intellexa being being behind this. And it never made much sense. Everything is pointing in the direction of people in government circles. In any case, Mr. Dimitriadis and some of his associates.

Now, if people say that is the wrong conclusion, then I would invite the authorities to share all the relevant information with us if they say that this hypothesis is the wrong one.

Now, I do believe, and I come to the conclusion that this matter must be urgently and fully clarified before next year’s elections. We have, as my colleague has just said, we’re not just looking at Greece, but also Poland, where we’ve made the same remark. Elections are national elections are also European elections because they also determine, for example, the representation of the governments in the Council. So therefore, they have to be free and fair. So, every shadow of a doubt about interference has to be lifted before the elections. This is key.

And really the final remark, I would say that this whole situation proves that the European Parliament needs full powers of enquiry with the right to summons witnesses, to hear them under oath and to get access to confidential documents. Thank you.

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Thank you very much. Three questions. One, two. I already have a third one there. The gentleman. Yes, please, sir. Short, English. Yes. Name and medium.

Greek Journalist: [… inaudible; editor’s note]. Two short, very short questions. One, the first one: What is your opinion about the initiative of the Greek government to introduce new legislation on this issue? And the second one, do you know if other European countries dispose such illegal software?

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Thank you.

Verena Schälter (German National Radio): Have you been able to…

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Name and medium please.

Verena Schälter (German National Radio): Sorry. My name is Verena Schälter from German National Radio on television.

And I would like to know if you have been able to talk to someone from Intellexa employees, CEO, anyone else, and also other companies related to that.

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Thank you. The gentlemen. Well, the micro.

Journalist: Hello, [… inaudible; editor’s note]. As far as the investigation is concerned. Do you think that everything has been done properly or do you think that there is a case of covering up by the government?

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Thank you very much.

Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Yes. Thank you. On the first question, indeed, we had a meeting with Minister Gerapetritis yesterday. He announced that within 15 days they’re going to propose new legislation, which I think in general sense is a good a good idea. But it depends, of course, on the content of the legislation.

He also offered to share the draft legislation with the bigger committee of the European Parliament to allow for us to comment on it. So, in that sense, that is positive because indeed the legal framework is important, but the implementation of the legal framework is also crucial.

Did we talk to Intellexa? No. We had sent requests both when we prepared the visit to Athens and Nicosia, but also before. They have not responded. We have spoken to another company in the same area and as a group when we visited Israel and they also participated in our hearing in in Brussels, the investigations, as we’ve been informed, that leads judicial investigations.

And also, when we spoke to Mr. Rammos from earlier this morning, their enquiries are still ongoing. So there is not much to say about that when we look at and I think the comments were made already by the rapporteur and also by myself, the enquiry committee of the Hellenic Parliament could have been a lot more useful in our opinion, and we would be very much happy if at least the conclusions of those investigations could be made public so that we could also use them for our work in the European context.

Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): Just very quickly on the last point, if I may, I mean, you used the term cover up, but, you know, I’m not going to qualify it. But no, I do not consider that the investigations are sufficiently thorough. As I said, I find it extremely worrying that when there is a revelation about somebody having been targeted with Predator, then, you know, only two months after the revelations, a kind of courtesy visit is paid to the offices of Intellexa. No material has been confiscated. The subsidiaries have not been investigated. The annual accounts have not been investigated. Do I consider that a thorough investigation? No. Am I afraid that a lot of evidence will disappear, has disappeared and has been destroyed? Yes. This is why we have already some time ago called for Europol to be involved for at least the securing of evidence to the extent that it still exists. And I would very much welcome an invitation by the Greek authorities to Europol.

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Thank you. Three more questions ahead. Okay. I had you already before you and you and… Okay?

Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Yes.

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): First, name and medium.

Journalist (CNN Greece):4 Hello, [… inaudible; editor’s note] from CNN Greece. Greek opposition parties have been accused by the government of intoxicating the political climate because of all the allegations made about the spyware scandal. Do you believe that there is substantial on these allegations against Greek opposition parties? And how far do you believe this scandal reaches? Do you believe that it is a to the prime minister, Mitsotakis as well?

Journalist: [… inaudible; editor’s note] Compared to other countries of Eastern Europe that you visited. How huge can you say is the problem in Greece? I mean, is it more serious than Hungary and Poland? Thank you.

Journalist (Libération): [… inaudible; editor’s note] I have one question about what do I tend to do for the journalist in order to help the journalists who are under surveillance in Greece? Because, in fact, this is a pillar of democracy who has been attacked in Greece. And second question, what do you recommend to the Greek government? What does it mean to have a ban? There are already journalists under surveillance. So, isn’t it too late?

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Sorry from which medium I didn’t catch it?

Journalist (Libération): Libération.

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Okay.

Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Well, thank you. Thank you very much.

On the first question, it’s not my job or within the scope of our committee to qualify as statements of the government or to give a verdict on what opposition policy parties do or do not do. The only thing I’ve noticed in which I also expressed regret in the statement is that we would assume that if you have a situation like the use of this kind of spyware or the wiretapping, that there is a parliamentary duty of all parties to sort of come together and address it. And what we have seen by the fact that for parties we’ve spoken to, first of all, we, of course, ask the meeting with our counterpart, which is the committee. The four parties we spoke to did not want to meet with any of the other parties, presidents who had for individual meetings. And they didn’t they couldn’t agree on a joint position by the four of them or even in the opposition. So, in that sense, that is that has worried me in Greece in comparison to Hungary and Poland. I think it’s safe to say that the situation in Greece is not comparable to Hungary and Poland. We visited the Poland earlier in our in our mandate. And I think where we definitely see a complete lack of any kind of checks and balances in Poland. This is not at the moment the case in Greece. But as we have said, there are urgent questions, and they need clarifications and there need to be full investigations. And we need to, by new legislation, make sure that there is an improvement of the situation.

How can we help journalists? I think the task of our committee and the task of the European Parliament by establishing this enquiry committee is to shed light on the matter in not only in Greece but in the whole of the European Union. And to make sure that from a European level we come up with recommendation, with proposals for legislation, with policy that will not allow this kind of surveillance on journalists. The European Commission has recently presented its Media Act where there are stronger protections for journalists, and I think that is a good starting point to do our job as a co-legislator in order to help journalists.

Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): As to the toxic atmosphere. It’s funny you should say that, because we are, as my colleague said, we are, let’s say, investigating many countries. And in almost all countries we are being accused of, uh, of intoxicatingly political atmosphere by governments of all political families. So, we’re probably, you know, very even handed in the end. And we’re also around the table with all the political groups.

Does it go all the way to the office of the Prime Minister? Well, let me put it this way. If I were in the Prime Minister’s shoes, then I would like to remove any shadow of a doubt at this point, because it’s also it’s not this is not a judicial question. This is about trust. And he’s you know, if you’re the prime minister or even a minister in the government, you’re not only a national politician, you’re also a European politician in the Council. You’re also taking decisions that concern other European citizens. So, I would like to remove any shadow of a doubt as quickly as I possibly could.

And then finally, what can the European Parliament do? Well, we cannot immediately I mean, we you know, we cannot come charging in with the light brigade. Unfortunately, the intergovernmental set up of the European Union gives us very few powers.

It is something that we need to consider because I think this is not only about legislation, we have legal instruments, but they’re being enforced very weakly by the European Commission. The Commission, which has written a very timid letter to some of the, let’s say, the countries that we are most concerned about. Asking them if they could please if it’s not too much trouble, explain what is going on. But that is not enforcement. I would expect a bit more assertiveness by the European Commission if, for example, enforce the privacy laws or Article two or, you know, there are legal instruments that the commission could use.

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Thank you very much. We have a few outstanding requests. One [… inaudible; editor’s note] once again. That’s it. Okay. Thank you.

Eliza Triantafillou (Inside Story): Speaker 5 Yes, my name is Eliza Triantafillou, I’m from Inside Story. Based on my understanding, Spain, Poland, and Hungary are three out of four countries that you have investigated, that their governments have admitted in a way that they were behind the spying on their citizens. Greece is the only country that they still deny it. But at the same time, vigorously. But at the same time, the government, as you mentioned, is doing the bare minimum to shed light to this. I would like to comment on that. On that difference between Greece and the other three countries.

Constantinos Tsoutsoplides (European Parliament Office, Greece): Thank you very much.

Nektaria Stamouli (Politico): Nektaria Stamouli from Politico. Yesterday in your Twitter account, you posted the number of questions that you that you asked the state minister Gerapetritis, including why Mr. Androulakis was under surveillance, the reasons for these, why the data was deleted, whether the government attempted to find out where deleted spyware used in Greece came from.

I was wondering whether you have any specific answers to any of those questions and secondly, whether you think that’s the government’s intention to completely ban the spyware in Greece is in the right direction and something that the European Parliament also considers to propose. Thank you.

Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Thank you. And thank you also. First of all, to you for the investigative work that you have done in in Greece, which is very helpful also for the work of our committee.

Yes, indeed, in Hungary and Poland and to a certain extent in Spain as well, governments have admitted the use of Pegasus, or at least the use of this kind of spyware. But they say it was also done for national security. Now, of course, we have, and this is the comment we made when we were in Warsaw, we cannot really picture a reality where it is necessary to use this kind of invasive spyware on so many people. Be a journalist, be it and use be it prosecutors, be it politicians, all in order for national security. Also, because in none of the countries concerned, particularly Poland and Hungary, have we seen any of this information that was supposedly necessary to do to secure national security, was used in any court case or indictment or prosecution. So, there we still have even though there is an admitting of using it, this is still very problematic.

Now, of course, in Greece, in the past days, the government has admitted using wiretapping. So, what they call legal surveillance, which is not necessarily within the scope of our committee. But you can see that we are also interested in that. And the checks and balances that are there and the legislation proposed should address, in our opinion, some of the gaps in that legislation. And the government, including by the state minister, categorically denies the purchase, the sale or the loan or the use of predator in Greece by government authorities. And, you know, I am not a I am not a judge. So, I cannot rule on this. It’s our job to collect as much information as we can and then use this to improve the legislation at the European level, which we are confident to do.

Also, Ms. Stamouli, thank you very much, because you were one of the guests of our committee when we were here in in Athens. And thank you for the information you provided. You went very fast to the questions that were posted on the until the yesterday. So. So forgive me if I cannot recall all of them, but we spent about 2 hours with the state, the minister of state. There were many questions asked. He answered all of them. Whether he answered them to the full satisfaction of the colleagues asking the questions was not always the case. Also, because maybe and I’m not sure if this was this was possible, in his view, also with regards to the confidentiality that is somewhat present in this situation.

Do we think that this is a step in the right direction? I think. Yes. But all again. The law will be presented in 15 days if we are informed, correct. The 15th of November. And I think it’s very important if there would be an outright ban on the sort of the sale of this spyware to individuals, it would be very important. I think that’s something we should definitely consider in the European Union as well. But I don’t want to step into the territory of my colleague, Sophia in ‚t Veld, the rapporteur, and it would be good.

And we also asked the Greek the Greek government maybe following up on Sophie’s complaint about the European Commission. We’ve also asked the Greek government if they were serious about this legislation, which would be a very positive step, and we need to see how it looks. But if they are serious about this, then we can also really use the help of the Greek government to push more countries in the council to actually take this matter seriously. Because now we’ve met with the minister here; in Poland, we were flat out rejected by any official authority to meet with us. Both in Cyprus and in and in Greece, we were met with at the ministerial level, which is very much appreciated.

But in the Council, we noticed that there is not much, not much appetite for this topic. We sent enquiries to all Member States. We have only received three replies so far and if we really want to change something also at the European level, we need not only a change in Greece, but we need change in the whole of the European Union. And I think that is very important. And we should also address those concerns to the to the European Council and all member states. Thank you.

Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): Yes. Look let’s start with the legislative proposals from. You know, what we’ve heard, sounds good, although I understand that the use of spyware is illegal already. And I think generally, I mean, there are a couple of issues with recent legislative changes, but overall, the legislative framework here is robust. You know, you don’t need a complete overhaul of the system, but it also has to be applied.

Next week, on Tuesday, I’m going to present the first draft of my report, which will cover not just Greece, but, you know, the whole of Europe, all the countries, the industry, etc., etc. And that will also go into the question of do we have sufficient legislative instruments and those that we have, are they being applied? And I think the answer to both questions is, is clearly no. So, we will make recommendations for legislative initiatives.

To the question about the difference with Spain, Poland, and Hungary, where the governments have, let’s say reluctantly, they have sort of admitted to having bought spyware and having used it. But they keep saying that it was all legitimate. You know, nothing to be seen here, keep circulating. But if we see who the targets are, then there is a big question mark, that is very clear.

Here, the government says we didn’t buy it because it would have been illegal. So, but as I try to set out in my introduction, then, you know, then who? Somebody has used it. Now, there are not a thousand scenarios, you know, so you have to look at who had the motive, who had the means, who had the opportunity?

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