I read Spying on the Prime Minister's Wife
with interest-it sounds from what zorkie's writing as though mainstream Greek thought is currently that the United States was behind the tapping. I'm not so sure, although it is possible.
According to zorkie, there are two main cellphone companies in Greece: the state-owned Cosmote, and Vodafone, a British company. There are apparently two others that are relatively very minor in size. I'm not sure why they have so little choice, but it's irrelevant. Probably bureaucratic barriers to entering the market; Europe being its quaint self. What is
interesting is that only Vodafone's system was tapped, and Cosmote/the other two weren't. That indicates to me that the tapping was a "target of opportunity" kind of thing. If the US was behind this, you could bet that both the Vodafone and Cosmote systems would be tapped. Let's set aside the incomprehensible fact that Greece's top politicians and military leaders are using commercial cellphone systems instead of some kind of encrypted military-grade system that can't be easily tapped.
The spy discovered that Vodafone could be penetrated, and so drew up a wish list of phone numbers to tap. Now, internal backend phone company servers of this kind are never exposed to the internet, at least not if they have any sense. So, this was not done by hacking. This was the development, or exploitation, of a human intelligence (humint) asset. In other words, it was an inside job-someone who works at Vodafone was either ideologically willing to assist, or his wallet was.
If it was ideological, it was an employee from a nation that is not Greece. The likeliest culprit here is Britain, because Vodafone is a British brand. The Greek Vodafone likely has lots of British technical employees keeping the machines humming. It's highly likely that MI6 has contacts and relationships with employees of British companies abroad that operate in sensitive intelligence-rich sectors of foreign economies. So the theory here is that this insider was a preplaced asset waiting to be activated, and the Greek Olympics were a reason to activate him.
If the motive was purely cash, the spying nation could be anyone, and the venal employee could be Greek or foreign-there's really nothing you can tell from this.
The main reason why I don't think it was the Americans is that the United States has the capability to tap cellphones by simply picking up the signal in the air, and we had several electronic intelligence outfits sailing around Greece during the Olympics as part of the NATO-provided security blanket. We could simply pluck the conversations we were interested in out of the thin air. Plus, we're terrible at HUMINT and the Brits are ace at it.
Of course, the fact that a US embassy cellphone number belonging to a Greek embassy employee was tapped casts doubt on the "British spy" theory-why would the British tap the phone of a Greek employee of the US embassy?
Then again, why would the Americans-or the British, for that matter-spy on Greek human rights activists and Greek journalists? That points the finger at a domestic Greek culprit.
The fact that the taps were never removed after the Olympics is curious. It indicates one of two things: incompetence at hiding their footprints on the part of a foreign intelligence agency (or perhaps circumstances beyond their control made it impossible to remove the taps in an undetectable fashion), or a political operation of domestic origin, that was never related to the Olympics in any way other than fortuitous timing, and was intended to last until discovered. I think the Greek US embassy employee was a misdirection, a feint intended to mislead. The fact that Greek journalists and human rights activists were targeted for surveillance is a very big hint that this was a domestic operation. What interest could the United States have in a bunch of do-gooder hippies and wanker journos?
In conclusion, I suspect Greeks are behind this. If not Greeks, then the Brits (has anyone forgotten about their tapping of UN phones?). The least plausible option is Americans. PASOK, the Greek socialist party, is making a lot of hay out of this. I think they did it in order to have a scandal later to bring down the right-wing government.