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"The black holes" of wiretap

20 October 2013 / 21:10:37  GRReporter
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A multi-agency team will start an inspection of the National Intelligence Service in the next 24 hours in order to ensure the confidentiality of communications and determine whether there has been illegal wire- tapping. The last inspection was in January 2012.

According to To Vima, such an extraordinary inspection was carried out in the relevant department of the Anti-terrorism services last June, without any suspicious findings. However, the competent examiner noted that despite official reports, there are 3 gaps in the control system, which can facilitate illegal wiretaps by the government without being detected. What happens to reports of illegal phone tapping of politicians and other people?

Big "bugs"

Since 2007-2008, the National Intelligence Service and the Anti-terrorism services have had 2 tracking systems available through which tapping can be performed of 700-800 phone calls via connecting cell phone companies.

There is also judicial authorization in criminal cases for tracking phones, or quick prosecutor’s orders are issued in cases of terrorisation, organized crime, and espionage, which are considered "necessary for the national security."

According to the report of the Agency, in order to ensure the confidentiality of communications in 2012, 2,055 permits were issued by judges as well as 2,634 prosecutor’s orders for the immediate lifting of the secrecy of telephone conversations. The inspection of the Agency only applies to whether records of computers, mainly in log files – of wiretaps systems match those required by judicial permits or prosecutorial orders. Only the number of requests and records is compared.

The three gaps

However, according to an officer familiar with those services, "inspectors of the Agency responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of communications only monitor the number of phone tappings, where everything seems to be fine. That is, no one checks at a second stage, why and for what purpose a phone tapping begins. The first "gap" is that a phone tapping may be requested by a reference to national security for servicing someone's interests. Furthermore, data from wiretaps are not normally included in court trials, so that the people involved or their lawyers can hear them and discover illegal tapping. They always have an informal character. The second "gap" is associated with the trick with anonymous informants who provide information on suspects. In this way, tapping without any substantial reason begins. The third "gap" is associated with the so-called portable systems of the National Reconnaissance Office and the police, the control of which is relatively difficult."

Significantly, over recent months, prosecutors in Athens have been investigating the trick of anonymous informants and the Department of internal cases of the police has been investigating allegations according to which police officers hand out handwritten notes to businessmen with the content of conversations of their competitors.

How members of Golden Dawn have been tapped

According to experts, what happened in the investigation of Golden Dawn is indicative: in this case, the authorities, of course, had the best of intentions, for the detection of its illegal activities.

Several days after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas there were a number of statements that investigations of camera shoots of neo-Nazis before the murder will be presented. Following SYRIZA charges, government officials said that the intelligence service had only tapped members of Golden Dawn.

However, no tracking appeared prior to the murder of Fyssas, not because there was no such tracking, but because it was considered likely that there was no legal basis. Conversations between members of Golden Dawn were presented after the murder, apparently without judicial decisions having been issued for the tapping. This tapping - which evidently had no connection to the murder, had started before that without a reason. It is also worth noting the fact that the case against Golden Dawn does not include requests or orders with 555 and 556 numbers, on the basis of which the telephone tapping of the organization was initiated. Only the results of the tapping exist, and no requests for it. 

Tags: National Intelligence Service the police tapping inspection
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