Greek PM's Vodafone Handset Was Bugged

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ATHENS (AP) The mobile phones of Greek Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis and top government and security officials were tapped by unknown individuals during the Athens 2004 Olympics and for nearly a year the government said Thursday.

"The people (under surveillance) included the prime minister himself and other members of the government," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told a news conference.

Athens prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos told The AP "this is a very serious case that touches on matters of national security."

The list of about 100 people whose telephones were tapped included the ministers of foreign affairs, defense, public order and justice. Most of Greece's top military and police officers were also targeted, as were foreign ministry officials, a U.S. embassy number and the Prime Minister's wife, Natasha.

The phone tapping "started before the 2004 Olympic Games and probably continued until March 2005, when it was discovered," Roussopoulos said.

But Roussopoulos - backed by Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis and Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras, who also attended the press conference - said it hadn't been possible to identify who was behind the tapping.

"It was an unknown individual, or individuals, who used high technology," he said.

Roussopoulos said the surveillance was carried out through spy software installed in the central system of Vodafone, the mobile telephony provider that served the targets. Calls were then diverted to mobile phones using pay-as-you-go services, which are difficult to trace.

Papangelopoulos, the Athens prosecutor, brought charges against "unknown persons" earlier Thursday, the justice minister said.

Papangelopoulos said he suspected a "para-state group" was involved, but did not elaborate.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires"

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Tags: athens  phone tapping  military  olympics 

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