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US embassy spied on greek elites { February 5 2006 }

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The Sunday Times February 05, 2006

Suicide mystery in Greek spy scandal
Philip Pangalos, in Athens

THE suicide of a senior Vodafone employee in Athens last March is being re-examined to see whether it has any connection with a phone-tapping scandal in which the conversations of the Greek prime minister and other leading officials were monitored during the months before and after the 2004 Olympics.
Illegal software installed in a “ghost program” at Vodafone Greece allowed conversations to be recorded on about 100 mainly government mobiles until March 2005, when the surveillance was uncovered.

The conversations of Kostas Karamanlis, the prime minister, and his wife Natasa were taped. Other government figures targeted for eavesdropping included Petros Molyviatis, the foreign minister, Spilios Spiliotopoulos, the defence minister, and George Voulgarakis, the public order minister The affair has provoked fevered speculation with American security agents being widely blamed for the tapping. The Greek government has said four antennae near the US embassy in Athens were used to transmit the conversations recorded.

To Vima, an Athens daily, also claimed yesterday that MI6 had secret surveillance operations in the area, but security experts said the Americans have more advanced and discreet equipment.

As part of the government’s investigation into the scandal, the suicide of Kostas Tsalikidis, 39, Vodafone Greece’s head of network design, is being re-examined by police.

Tsalikidis was found hanged in his Athens flat on the morning of March 9, 2005, two days after the ghost program had been discovered and shut down by George Koronias, the Vodafone general manager, and a day before the prime minister’s office was informed.

At the time detectives found no suicide note. They are now examining the dead man’s laptop, which has been in police storage for the past year.

Vodafone issued a statement on Friday saying the death of its former employee was unconnected with the phone tapping. However, Tsalikidis’s family and friends have said that he spoke of work-related pressures prior to his death.

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