Anna Kanellopoulou 28 • 01 • 2023

European Parliament Committee urges Greece to restore the full independence of the judiciary and oversight mechanisms

Anna Kanellopoulou
European Parliament Committee urges Greece to restore the full independence of the judiciary and oversight mechanisms
28 • 01 • 2023

The European Parliament’s PEGA committee finds that contraventions or maladministration in the implementation of Union law in the use of spyware has occurred in Greece following revelations of new Predator surveillance victims. The Committee’s Draft Recommendation contains a list of proposals including a full police investigation of spyware abuse with the involvement of Europol.

The European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into the use of Pegasus and related spy surveillance software (PEGA) was set up in March 2022 to gather information on the extent to which Member States or third countries are using intrusive surveillance in violation of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. 

In March 2021, legislative amendment 826/145 removed the ability of the Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE) to notify individuals that the confidentiality of their communications has been revoked. Since then, investigations over the last year have revealed that a host of surveillance targets including senior politicians and journalists, were monitored either with spyware or by state agencies, or in some cases both, from the beginning of summer 2021.

(c) ensure that the authorities can freely and unhindered investigate all allegations of the use of spyware;

(d) urgently withdraw Amendment 826/145 of Law 2472/1997, which abolished the ability of the ADAE to notify citizens of the lifting of the confidentiality of communications;

(e) restore full independence of the judiciary and all relevant oversight bodies, such as the Ombudsman and the Data Protection Authorities, to ensure all oversight bodies get full cooperation and access to information and to provide full information to all victims;

(f) reverse the legislative amendment of 2019 that placed the EYP under the direct control of the Prime Minister;

(g) urgently implement the Whistleblowers Directive;

(h) ensure the independence of the EAD leadership;

(i) urgently launch a police investigation following the alleged abuse of spyware and seize physical evidence of proxies, broker companies and spyware vendors that are linked to the spyware infections;

(j) invite Europol to immediately join the investigations;

Where is the problem with the rule of law?

Although Article 19 of the Constitution enshrines the absolute inviolability of the privacy of communications, revelations suggest that dozens of citizens have been targeted for surveillance through the Predator spyware as well as by the Greek Intelligence Services. The surveillance of journalists also raises issues with the constitutionally enshrined Freedom of the Press (Article 14).

The restriction of the right to privacy on grounds of national security is in principle accepted under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, according to the provisions of the ECHR and the case law of the Strasbourg Court, these must be subject to review by an independent body as to the legality, necessity and proportionality of the interference.

Anna Kanellopoulou
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