Vodafone, Ericsson clash over Greek wiretap issue

The head of Ericsson's operations in Greece disputed an account given by telecom giant Vodafone about a major wiretapping scandal that included illegal surveillance of the country's prime minister, an Associated Press report said.


The report said a parliament committee was investigating the illegal cellphone surveillance of Premier Costas Caramanlis and senior state security officials from just before the August 2004 Olympic Games until March 2005.


The list also included senior military officers, human rights activists, journalists, Arab businessmen and a mobile phone used by the US Embassy, according to a list of numbers given to parliament by Vodafone, the report said.


Victims of the wiretap operation were subscribers of Vodafone, which used technology built by Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson to maintain its Greek network, the report further said.


Ericsson's CEO in Greece, Bill Zikou, told parliament that software it installed in the network to allow legally-sanctioned surveillance had been exploited by a rogue program to tap government phones, the report said.


In the report, Zikou maintained that Vodafone had been informed about that legal software and had been responsible for its protection, a claim strongly denied by the British mobile phone operator.


But a Vodafone statement issued after Zikou's appearance said it had not been informed about the surveillance software, the report said.