MEP Georgiou raises allegations about surveillance at Central Prisons to Pegasus Inquiry Committee

Cypriot MEP Giorgos Georgiou has informed the head of the European Parliament’s committee of inquiry on recent allegations and media reports regarding alleged intention of phone surveillance at the Central Prisons in Cyprus.

In his letter to the head of the committee, Georgiou points to a letter leaked to the press, in which Justice Minister Stephie Drakos requests that the Prisons Department upgrade and use surveillance software.

Georgiou adds that this case elicits concerns regarding the rule of law in Cyprus, given that companies that produce and export such software are active in the country.

The MEP, one of the vice presidents of the Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (PEGA) of the European Parliament, sent a letter to its president, Dutch MEP Jeroen Lenaers (EPP), on the occasion of reports of illegal surveillance in Greece, suggesting that the committee conduct a fact finding mission in Athens.

The next meeting of the PEGA committee has been scheduled to take place on August 30th and is expected to focus on the use of surveillance software against citizens.

According to a press release by this office, in his letter Georgiou says that a scandal has broken out in Cyprus regarding the Ministry of Justicer reportedly allowing the surveillance of mobile phones inside prisons, instead of strengthening the use of jamming software.

Georgiou says that according to media reports, Justice Minister Stephie Drakos had orally instructed the Prison Department to upgrade and fully use the existing software, including by activating automatic surveillance which would record identifying data about phone devices, sim cards, date and time of calls and coordinates.

The MEP also said than in a letter sent by the Ministry of Justice to the Prisons Department on February 28th 2022, and which was leaked to the press, the Minister repeats her instructions in writing, which, he said, strengthens the reading that the ministry intended to upgrade the software so that it could be used for surveillance instead for jamming.

Georgiou said he was convinced that these new developments, along with indications that companies that produce and export such software operate in Cyprus, could potentially point to serious issues regarding democracy and the rule of law in the country, and that this should be brought to the attention of the committee.

Regarding recent developments in Greece, Georgiou said that if it is confirmed that an MEP and party leader was being spied on that would be unacceptable, and recalled that the European Commission’s report on rule of law for 2022 continues specific reference to surveillance through the use of the Predator software, which is equivalent to Pegasus.

Source: Cyprus News Agency