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Arrest warrant for US embassy employee for phone-tapping scandal

The examining magistrate against corruption investigating a phone-tapping conspiracy targeting former prime minister Costas Karamanlis, among others, on Monday ordered the arrest of a former employee at the US embassy in Athens in relation with the case.

Examining magistrate Dimitris Foukas issued an arrest warrant against a 65-year-old US embassy employee (initials W.B.) on charges of espionage. According to available evidence, the defendant played the leading role in the major phone-tapping scandal that shook Greece in the last decade. Authorities will release his identity within the next few days.

Sources say that the examining magistrate has indisputable evidence in his possession, according to which, in June 2004, the wife of the former US embassy employee bought from a mobile phone store in Piraeus the so-called “shadow phones” that were connected to a recording machine. Also, in the period before the case was brought to light in March 2005, the defendant had made many trips to the United States. 

Based on the phone records examined, it appears that one of the controversial telephone connections was diverted to a phone number that belonged to the US embassy in Athens. 
The examining magistrate also has evidence concerning a building in Athens' southern suburbs where an antenna was installed by the wire-tapping suspects. It appears that in the past another antenna was operating in the building to receive information. 

After the eavesdropping case was brought to light the defendant was allegedly removed from Greece for a short while and returned in August 2005 under a diplomatic identity as the first secretary at the US embassy.  

Based on available evidence, the defendant cooperated with the Greek authorities mainly on counter-terrorism issues and participated in an operation code-named “web” which involved the removal of a large quantity of explosives from the Iraqi embassy in 2003.

The examining magistrate's investigation focuses on the specific US citizen, who appears to have served in his country's intelligence service since 1990 when he was transferred to Athens, to decide if he has any involvement in the alleged assassination plot targeting former prime minister Costas Karamanlis. The case file is currently under investigation by the examining magistrate and charges have been filed against unidentified culprits. 

A few months ago, the defendant had informed the examining magistrate through his defence lawyer that he is willing to cooperate and that he will visit the examining magistrate's office to provide information on the case under investigation, which he never did.