11 May, 2006
The 14 'shadow' phones used by the illegal spy software in Vodafone's systems had received calls from the United States, Albania and via the Inmarsat satellite used in maritime communications, the head of the Greek intelligence service EYP revealed on Wednesday.
In testimony before a Parliamentary committee investigating the phone-tap scandal, EYP commander Ioannis Korantis also reported an apparent discrepancy between the recorded length of outgoing calls made by the phones, according to Vodafone, and the amount of money charged for them.
Korantis said EYP's investigation showed that one of the pre-paid 'shadow' mobiles had received six successive calls on December 17, 2004 from an Inmarsat terminal, each lasting a few minutes. He explained that the Inmarsat system operated via four satellites that gave global coverage and that the specific calls were relayed by the satellite covering the area from the eastern Atlantic Ocean to the east Mediterranean and Saudi Arabia.
Another 'shadow' phone received three consecutive calls of a few minutes from the U.S. on August 31, 2004 but Vodafone had only supplied EYP with the international dialing code for the calls and no other details, saying they had not been kept. The same phone then received three calls from Albania on January 5, 2005, EYP's commander told MPs.
The data supplied by Vodafone did not reveal any other incoming calls to the phone-tapping system from abroad, he added.
Korantis also corroborated earlier testimony by the head of Greece's independent communications privacy authority, ADAE, Andreas Lambrinopoulos, that a pre-paid card-mobile issued by the mobile phone provider TIM had received calls from the 'shadow' card-mobiles.
According to Korantis, there had been just two calls made from the Vodafone 'shadow' phones to the TIM mobile, one at 14:20 on June 29, 2004 lasting 24 seconds and a second at 14:21 lasting 9 seconds. When EYP asked TIM to supply information on that number, they were told that the specific phone line was in operation for roughly one month, from early June until July 2004, and during that time it had neither made nor received calls via the TIM network.
Korantis additionally pointed out several instances when the recorded duration of calls made by the 'shadow' card-mobiles were too small to justify the amounts charged for them and stressed that Vodafone had been unable to supply a convincing explanation on how this was possible.
Testifying before Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee last week on the results of his agency's investigation, the head of the Authority of Assurance of Information and Communication Privacy and Security (ADAE) had hinted that EYP had also discovered the same evidence.
Lambrinopoulos said that ADAE had traced two outgoing calls made from the Vodafone spy mobiles to a TIM mobile. He said the TIM phone "behaved" in the same way as a 'low-phone interceptor' card-mobile but had also made calls to the United States.
According to the ADAE chief, however, phone records showed that the TIM card-mobile had made 11 calls and sent one SMS message to two numbers in the U.S. city of Laurel in Maryland, while it had also made and received calls from other TIM numbers. He also reported that six SMS messages from abroad had been sent to the phone-tapping system.
The phone-tapping plot involving Greece's top mobile phone provider Vodafone was revealed by the government in February, after a nearly year-long covert investigation by the authorities had failed to find those responsible. It said the roughly 100 phones that were tapped included those of the prime minister, members of the government, high-ranking police and armed forces personnel, activists, journalists, business people and even one U.S. Embassy employee.
It was first brought to the government's attention in March 2005 by Vodafone chief executive George Koronias, who said it operated through a piece of sophisticated intruder software that had activated a legal "low-phone interception" system developed by Ericsson to allow legal phone surveillance but was able to mask its presence when inactive.
Source: Athens News Agency