Greek Journalism: Two Parallel Universes

Eleni Stamatoukou




Greek media are polarized. Depending on their connections with “power,” they choose to underreport or not report on an issue. Anyone who lives in Greece or deals with Greek current affairs can easily perceive two realities, two parallel universes in the country.

The revelation of the wiretapping scandal, also known as Predator Gate or Greek water gate, was initiated by independent Greek media such as Inside Story, Reporters United, and the pro-SYRIZA [Greece’s main opposition left-wing party] Greek media outlets of Efimerida ton Syntakton and Documento. For many months, the specific media tried to highlight the issue through continuous reports. However, this didn’t represent the entire Greek press.

Other media, especially those close to the government, either underreported or avoided writing/saying anything. This had a direct impact on the way in which the readers, in general the Greek public, perceived the importance of the topic. Many Greeks, among them even journalists, took for granted that they were/are under surveillance and that it is something that happens and all governments have done/are doing.

Predator Gate

The wiretapping scandal - which occupied the Greek media since the spring of 2022- is about the use of illegal predator software by the Greek secret services, EYP, for the purpose of monitoring or attempting to monitor journalists, politicians, military personnel, business people, judicial and government officials.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, after the win of his conservative party, New Democracy, in 2019, placed EYP under his direct supervision and under the responsibility of his nephew and general secretary Grigoris Dimitriadis.

Thanasis Koukakis, a financial journalist at CNN Greece, and contributor to foreign media such as CNBC and The Financial Times, is the first confirmed victim. Koukakis who was reporting about Greek government’s controversial changes to the Greek criminal code, money laundering legislation and tax regulations; he was monitored by the Greek secret services for reasons of "national security" but also through predator, which was illegally installed on his mobile phone after he had first clicked on a mischievous link that had been sent to him.

Koukakis in an interview in Balkan Insight stated “the questions to be asked are: how many other journalists? How many other politicians? It’s not just me and Androulakis.”

After Koukakis’s revelations in April 2022, Nikos Androulakis, the leader of the third largest party PASOK in the Greek parliament, and MEP, is the second almost confirmed “victim” of predator. In July 2022 announced that he received a text message with a link on his mobile that he never clicked.

It was only then when mainstream Greek media starting reporting on the scandal.

At the beginning of August 2020, after big pressure Mitsotakis’s nephew Dimitriadis and the head of EYP Panagiotis Kontoleon resigned.

Source: pixabay.com

Mitsotakis in a televised message regarding Androulakis’s monitoring said that he knew nothing: “What was done may have been in accordance with the letter of the law, but was wrong. I was not aware of it and, obviously, I would never allow it!”.

To date, the investigation of the case has not been closed, and no charges have been filed.

Greek Media: Parallel universes 

Foreign media such as Balkan Insight, international organizations defending the freedom of the press, as well as the competent EU body [PEGA Committee formed to investigate alleged infringement or maladministration in the application of EU law in relation to the use of Pegasus and equivalent spyware surveillance software] through continuous reports and investigations, played an important role in highlighting the Greek surveillance scandal.

Predator gate became “popular” topic on Greek mainstream media only when Androulakis’s announced his surveillance attempt.

Alexis Papachelas, the current Executive Editor of Greek newspaper Kathimerini admitted in October 22 that Greek media and Kathimerini were “slow” on investigating the scandal. However, he added that since his newspaper got involved, "the coverage is not incomplete.”

It is not the first time an issue is underreported or not reported by the Greek media. Anyone who lives in Greece or deals with Greek current affairs can easily perceive that there are two realities, two parallel universes, in the country. On the one hand, there is the narrative of the government, and on the other, there is the "independent" and those opposed to the government media. But is this journalism? The readers, based on their political beliefs, will choose to be informed by the media that represents them. But is this real information?

The Greek press is deeply divided, as the journalistic world, not journalists themselves but journalism itself. Journalists, depending on the media they are working with, know what they should or should not write about or, specifically, to self-censor or not themselves. Now, the topics are not banned or, as we say in the Greek journalistic slang, “are placed in the fridge” by the CEOs but by the journalists themselves. As long as this division continues in the Greek media, so will the Greek society be divided.

As these words are being written, the journalistic investigation into the wiretapping scandal continues


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Eleni Stamatoukou

Eleni Stamatoukou is a journalist known for her work on various topics, including migration, border control policies, and current events. She has contributed to publications such as Balkan Insight and Solomon. Her articles cover a wide range of subjects, including issues related to security, surveillance, cyber security, and international relations.