On October 24, 2022, journalist Tasos Telloglou, in an article for the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, revealed that journalists covering the wiretapping scandal in Greece have been under surveillance by, he suspects, state agencies.
He had personally experienced both physical and digital surveillance, and had been made aware of an attempt by a police officer to illegally access his car. Telloglou explained that on May 27, 2022 whilst walking in central Athens, he had noticed that a young man with a plastic coffee cup in his hand and a bag slung around his waist was following him. It was 10 in the morning and he was heading to a meeting with a source who was active in the marketing of software for the needs of the security services. A few days later, Telloglou said that a retired police officer had told him to be careful where he parks his car. When he asked the parking attendant if anything unusual had happened he was told that a gentleman from the police had requested access to his car but was refused. On May 2, 2022, he was photographed after a meeting with the journalist Thanasis Koukakis, the first known target of the Predator spyware.
Mr. Telloglou’s revelations raise serious questions about the protection of press freedom in Greece, as the surveillance of journalists makes it difficult, if not impossible, to protect sources and whistleblowers who, under the condition of anonymity, give information of public interest to reporters.
The Greek government has repeatedly denied that it has ever purchased or used Predator spyware, which is marketed in Greece by cybersecurity firm Intellexa. The Greek government has not commented on or denied the alleged state surveillance.
Journalists unions, Reporters Without Borders and the International Press Institute – IPI have expressed their concern and called on the government to answer the allegations.
In a state governed by the rule of law, where individual rights and the freedom of the press are protected, journalists have the right to exercise their profession freely and independently, without censorship and influence.
Despite Article 14 of the Constitution guaranteeing the freedom of the press, these revelations raise serious questions about how effectively the freedom of the press is being respected, as the surveillance of journalists compromises the protection of sources and whistleblowers who disclose information to reporters on the condition of anonymity.
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