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Vodafone Faces Private Lawsuit over Greek Spying Scandal

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The Vodafone Greece spying scandal is about to erupt again as the family of Vodafone engineer, Costas Tsalikidis launch a private lawsuit against the company.

Last year, wiretapping equipment was found inside key components of the Vodafone network in Greece, which was being used to monitor conversations of 103 people, including the Greek Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis and his wife.

A report by Greek MPs found that the wiretapping could only have occurred with the cooperation of staff within Vodafone and Ericsson and identified three employees - although only by their initials. As the mater hit the press, Vodafone's network planning manager, Costas Tsalikidis was found dead of an apparent suicide, although this is contested by his family who suspect murder. His death was linked to the scandal by an investigating prosecutor, but no further action has been taken so far.

Tsalikidis's family suspect he was poisoned and are now petitioning to have his body exhumed for tests.

The UK based, Observer newspaper says that it has learnt that the family's lawyer, Themistokles Sofos, is set to hire forensics expert Dr Michael Baden, who gave testimony in the OJ Simpson trial, to examine the poisoning claims. "They say he committed suicide due to his working environment," Sofos said. "But we have serious doubts about this."

The lawyer told the newspaper that he has evidence that, several days before his death, a number of British Vodafone employees travelled to Athens to question Tsalikidis. He claims to know the executives' identities, raising the prospect that they will be named in the lawsuit, something that could prove embarrassing to the company, which has always denied colluding with third parties to bug the Vodafone network.

Last December, the authority fined Vodafone a total of USD100 million - which the company had rejected as "illegal, unfair and baseless". Vodafone Greece had - controversially - removed the wiretapping equipment from its network before police officers could study it, hence damaging a lot of forensics information which may have offered clues as to who put the kit there in the first place.

Ericsson was also fined USD10 million by Greece's Authority for the Information and Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE) over the spying scandal in September this year.

On the web: The Guardian Observer

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Tags: privacy  vodafone greece  lawyer  athens  forensics  lawsuit  suicide  network planning  Greece