A recent report claims that an American citizen working for Facebook was spied on by the Greek national intelligence service for over a year.
The New York Times reports that a dual American and Greek citizen who worked on Facebook’s security and trust team was subjected to a year-long wiretap by the Greek national intelligence service and hacked using a cyberespionage tool called Predator. This is the first reported instance in which such spying technology has been used against an American citizen in a European Union member state.
The case centers on Artemis Seaford, a Harvard and Stanford graduate who was employed as a trust and safety manager at Facebook (now known as Meta) from 2020 to 2022 while residing in Greece. Seaford’s duties at Meta included working on cybersecurity policy issues and maintaining contact with Greek and other European officials.
Seaford brought her phone to The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, the foremost forensics experts on spyware, after discovering her name on a list of spyware targets that had been compromised in the Greek news media last November. According to the lab report, Predator spyware was used to hack Seaford’s phone in September 2021 for at least two months.
On Friday, Seaford filed a lawsuit in Athens against anyone identified as the hacker. Prosecutors are required to launch an investigation by the lawsuit. Additionally, Seaford requested information from the independent constitutional watchdog Greek Authority for the Protection of the Privacy of Telecommunications about whether the EYP, the country’s national intelligence service, had wiretapped her phone.
According to two people with firsthand knowledge of the situation, Seaford was indeed wiretapped by the Greek spy agency beginning in August 2021—the month before the spyware hack—and continuing for a number of months into 2022. Due to the fact that it is against the law for them to publicly comment on EYP operations, they spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Greece only allows wiretapping when it is necessary for serious criminal investigations or reasons of national security. Why Seaford was chosen as a target is unknown. Seaford insists that there is no justifiable reason why she is being singled out for attack. No charges have been filed against her more than a year after the illegal spyware was installed on her mobile device and she was under the surveillance of the Greek intelligence service. She has also not been asked to assist the authorities with any investigations.
Greek authorities have denied spying on the American citizen. “The Greek authorities and security services have at no time acquired or used the Predator surveillance software. To suggest otherwise is wrong,” Giannis Oikonomou, the government spokesman, said in an email. “The alleged use of this software by nongovernmental parties is under ongoing judicial investigation.”