Israeli-made Spyware Was Used to Hack Phone of Greek Ex-minister

The scandal over use of the malicious software in Greece grows as a former minister from a left-wing party became the third person said to have been targeted with the Israeli Predator spyware

Omer Benjakob
Omer Benjakob
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The Greek Parliament building, in August.
The Greek Parliament building, in August.Credit: COSTAS BALTAS/ REUTERS
Omer Benjakob
Omer Benjakob

A Greek ex-minister's phone has been hacked using the Israeli-made spyware Predator in the third case of a Greek national being targeted with it.

Greece is in the midst of a massive political scandal over revelations involving the spyware, which was previously found on the phone of a prominent investigative journalist and the leader of the country’s social democratic party.

In the latest case, former lawmaker and Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Christos Spirtzis, a member of the left-wing party SYRIZA, was hacked in 2021 using a malicious link that also infected the phone of journalist Thanasis Koukakis.

In August, the head of Greece's intelligence service Panagiotis Kontoleon stepped down amid increased scrutiny of the agency's surveillance practices, including an accusation by an opposition party leader that his phone was bugged by Predator in 2021.

Greece has admitted that it conducted the surveillance, emphasizing that it was done legally, but did not say if it used the Predator spyware, created by the Israeli-owned firm Intelexa and its subsidiary CYTROX. The latter is registered in North Macedonia and operates from Greece.

Intellexa is run by a former Israeli military intelligence official Tal Dilian. The company was based in Cyprus until a year and a half ago, when it moved to Greece.

Predator is very similar to the infamous Pegasus spyware made by the competing and more famous cyber firm NSO Group. Like Pegasus, it allows the operator to access the entire contents of the target’s phone, as well as secretly activating its camera and phone and recording.

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