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Greece fines Ericsson Hellas in tapping case
September 6, 2007 / 2:55 PM / 10 years ago

Greece fines Ericsson Hellas in tapping case

(Updates with Ericsson reaction)

ATHENS, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Greece’s privacy watchdog has fined the Greek unit of telecom equipment maker Ericsson (ERICb.ST) more than 7 million euros over a wiretapping scandal that rocked the country last year.

In 2006 the Greek government revealed that more than 100 people, including the prime minister, senior ministers, journalists and activists, had their mobile phones tapped for about a year around the Athens 2004 Olympics.

“The Hellenic Authority for Information and Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE) decided to fine Ericsson Hellas 7.36 million euros ($10 million) in relation to the wiretap issue,” ADAE said in a statement released late on Wednesday.

It gave no further details. ADAE has said Ericsson Hellas’s equipment was used in the phone tapping.

Ericsson Hellas said it planned to appeal the decision.

“We have not really received officially a decision so we cannot comment on the reasoning,” Maria Boura, director of marketing and strategy for Ericsson Hellas, told Reuters.

“Of course we will appeal against the decision before the Supreme Administrative Court in Athens ... As we have stated in the past, the company did not have any involvement in the development, intrusion and use of illegal software.”

In December 2006 ADAE also fined the Greek unit of Vodafone (VOD.L) 76 million euros for a “number of infringements attributed to the company”, also without giving details.

Vodafone Hellas has rejected the decision, saying it considers the fine illegal and is appealing the decision.

The bugged phones were found to have been tapped mostly before and during the Athens Games by unknown eavesdroppers. The case became public after Vodafone Greece informed the government of its concerns when it suspected its equipment was being used.

The government went public with the case almost a year after it was informed by Vodafone, prompting questions in the media about whether foreign intelligence services were involved.

At the time, the Greek government said Ericsson-supplied software was used to tap phones from June 2004 until March 2005.

Calls were relayed to unknown destinations via four mobile phone antennas in central Athens. The bugging stopped when Vodafone Greece discovered the software and removed it from the system.

((Reporting by George Hatzidakis, additional reporting by Adam Cox in Stockholm; editing by Michael Winfrey; george.hatzidakis@reuters.com; +302103376455))

($1=.7357 Euro) Keywords: GREECE ERICSSON/FINE

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