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Connect the δοτς.
Sometimes it's not enough to be the planet's backwater.
A huge scandal is unfolding in the EU. It has been for weeks. Greece's - and the planet's - number one cellphone purveyor Vodafone were caught with a compromised GSM switch that automatically flipped one hundred phones used by the prime minister and members of the government into conference call mode.
This happened a full year ago but it's only coming to light now.
Dates are important here. It was 7 March 2005 when the matter was discovered by Sony/Ericsson during a routine system check. Upon receiving the alarming news, the Greek Vodafone CEO George Koronias had the compromise dismantled - without conducting a proper investigation and before alerting the government.
It was spyware Sony/Ericsson found - spyware as in software deliberately put in the system to spy. Once Koronias had the spyware dismantled, it became impossible to trace back to the source: whoever was doing the spying would have understood the jig was up and cleaned their tracks. Something that's bleeding obvious to everyone.
The sypware was running off several Vodafone masts in the downtown Athens area. Calls made there from or to approximately one hundred very important numbers got flipped into conference call mode.
Two days after the disclosure on 9 March Vofafone software engineer Costas Tsalikidis was found dead. The official version was he killed himself, even though friends and family both insist he wasn't the type. And asked whether there was any connection, both Vodafone and the Greek government flatly blasted back 'no'.
Confronted with the fact that the US embassy in Athens was within firing range of the compromised Vodafone masts, Vodafone and the Greek government said 'see - they were probably spying on the US too'.
This is what happened. A CIA operative in Athens succeeds in compromising a high ranking official for Vodafone. Spyware is put on the masts. Tsalikidis discovers the spyware. Knowing that the source had to be traced before doing anything else, he goes to management with his discovery. Management dismiss the entire thing, which of course tells Tsalikidis the collusion is high up in the organisation.
Meanwhile the CIA operative is alerted that Tsalikidis is on the scent.
Sony/Ericsson do a routine check and discover the spyware. CEO Koronias, up past his eyeballs in the whole thing, has the spyware immediately dismantled so the trail can't lead back to him or the CIA.
But then there's Tsalikidis. He knows about the spyware and he knows Vodafone management know about it too, and when the scandal goes public he's going to sing. Koronias alerts his CIA friend, who gathers his frat boy pals. They have a little frat boy laugh and then pay Tsalikidis a visit, kill him, and make it look like a suicide.
Only today, weeks after the scandal first hit the media, are further facts about Tsalikidis coming out. Now his family are saying he was about to tell them something big was happening at Vodafone. And that he told them something was very wrong at the company.
Of course something was very wrong.
The brother of Costas Tsalikidis recently turned over an 'emergency diary' Tsalikidis kept for the one month period prior to his death. If something goes wrong, he told his brother, give my diary to the police.
He also told his brother again something was very wrong at Vodafone, and he told his girlfriend Vodafone might have to close down operations, and he said it was 'a matter of life and death' he personally leave the company.
There have been protests against Vodafone, at the US embassy, and against the Greek government. But whatever damage was done is water under the bridge now - as long as Sony/Ericsson got the entire iceberg and not just the tip of it. The real shocker - with all due respect to Costas Tsalikidis and his family - is how the government of Greece have been handling this affair.
And Koronias is still dropping the empty buzzwords 'national security' when he explains to investigators why he had the spyware immediately dismantled and did not first have the source traced.
And he's also trying to scatter dirt, suggesting Sony/Ericsson, the very people behind the discovery, were responsible for planting the spyware in the first place.
He talks too much.
What's interesting is that the people on the street are not playing the 'dumb dog game' their government expect.
- 40% think it's obvious the tapping was done by a foreign power.
- 73% of those think it's obvious it was done by the United States.
- 80% think there's more tapping still going on.
- 55% say there's no one protecting their national security.
The family of Costas Tsalikidis have now filed suit, claiming Tsalikidis was murdered.
Sometimes it's not enough to be the planet's backwater. Sometimes one has to exhibit gross stupidity as well.