Greek intelligence service boss quits amid wiretapping allegations

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ATHENS, Aug 5 (Reuters) - The head of Greece's intelligence service stepped down on Friday amid increased scrutiny of the agency's surveillance practices including an accusation by an opposition party leader that he was wiretapped in 2021.

Panagiotis Kontoleon, chief of the EYP intelligence service, submitted his resignation "following mistaken actions found during lawful wiretapping procedures," a statement from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' office said.

Kontoleon was not immediately reachable for comment.

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Earlier this week, two lawmakers who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said that Kontoleon had admitted during a parliamentary committee hearing on July 29 that his service had spied on Thanasis Koukakis, a financial journalist who works for CNN Greece. read more

That closed-door hearing was called after the leader of the socialist opposition PASOK party Nikos Androulakis lodged a complaint with top court prosecutors over an attempt to bug his mobile phone with surveillance software in September 2021. read more

Androulakis, who was elected PASOK leader in December 2021, said on Friday evening that he had also learned EYP listened to his conversations in late 2021. He did not disclose the source of the information.

Androulakis called on the Greek parliament to set up an investigative committee to look into the case and accused the government of downplaying the issue.

"We found out today that EYP, which reports directly to the prime minister, proceeded with wiretapping me during the internal electoral process over PASOK's leadership," he said.

The government later said that it had been made aware of Androulakis' surveillance, which it said was lawful as it had been approved by a prosecutor, and had sought to inform him "but Androulakis chose not to respond," government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said in a statement.

Oikonomou added that the ruling Conservative Party, which controls 157 lawmakers in 300-seat house, would back a request to set up an investigative committee to examine the issue. To be approved, such a motion needs to be signed by 120 lawmakers.

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Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Karolina Tagaris, Additional reporting by Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Ros Russell and Cynthia Osterman

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