The European Parliament on Monday confirmed that a group of MEPs will this week visit Cyprus and Greece to investigate the development and use of spyware in these member states.
In a press release, the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry on Pegasus and other spyware (Pega) said that on Tuesday and Wednesday its delegation will meet with Energy Minister Natasa Pilides, as well as with government officials, members of the House of Representatives, legal experts, NGO representatives and journalists.
MEPs will then continue to Greece (November 2–4) to talk to members of the Hellenic Parliament, including those who were part of the parliament’s wiretapping inquiry committee, Greece’s Minister of State Giorgos Gerapetritis, government officials, NGOs, journalists, data protection authorities, and other stakeholders.
The visit will conclude with a press conference on Friday, November 4 at the European Parliament Liaison Office in Athens. The press conference will be live-streamed.
A type of spyware called Predator – allegedly used against opposition politicians and journalists in Greece – is owned by a company formerly incorporated in Cyprus.
The European parliament set up the special committee back in March to investigate the use of spyware and any link between Cyprus and the eavesdropping affair in Greece.
That resurfaced claims and counterclaims in Cyprus over the shady “black spy van” – with the deputy attorney general in August denying that there had been a coverup in the 2019 case.
Opposition politicians complained that authorities had dropped charges against Israeli defendants whose company was centred in the spy van scandal – with further allegations that it had tested out its spyware on members of the public.
A December 2021 report by Citizen Lab said Predator was developed by a company called Cytrox.
The report quoted a 2019 article in Forbes, which stated that “Cytrox was ‘rescued’ by Tal Dilian, a former Israel Defence Forces Unit 81 commander, whose company WiSpear (which appears to have been renamed Passitora Ltd) is based in Limassol, Cyprus and reportedly acquired Cytrox in 2018.”
According to the same report, “Dilian is also the founder and CEO of Intellexa.”
“Cytrox is part of the so-called ‘Intellexa alliance’, a marketing label for a range of mercenary surveillance vendors that emerged in 2019. The consortium of companies includes Nexa Technologies (formerly Amesys), WiSpear/Passitora Ltd., Cytrox, and Senpai…”
Citizen Lab added: “Originally based in Cyprus, a recent report indicates that Intellexa now operates from Greece, which is also listed as the LinkedIn location of its founder, Dilian. A preliminary review of corporate registry documentation suggests that the alliance has a corporate presence in not only Greece (Intellexa SA), but also in Ireland (Intellexa Limited).”
Dilian is the same individual implicated in the late 2019 ‘spy van’ affair here in Cyprus. He and two others were charged in connection with the case, but the attorney general subsequently dropped the prosecution.
The MEPs participating in the mission were named as: Jeroen Lenaers; Sophie in ‘t Veld; Sylvie Guillaume; Juan Ignacio Zoido Alvarez; Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi; Thijs Reuten; Róża Thun; Saskia Bricmont; Stelios Kouloglou; Laura Ferrara; and Lidia Pereira.