Cyprus: Call for thorough investigations into surveillance of Makarios…

Cyprus: Call for thorough investigations into surveillance of Makarios Drousiotis

We are highly concerned about the alleged surveillance of journalist Makarios Drousiotis, and the lack of prompt, adequate or thorough investigation of the matter.


Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus, George L. Savvides

Minister of Justice and Public Order, Anna Koukkides Procopiou

Chief of Police, Stylianos Papatheodorou


19 September 2023


Re: the alleged surveillance of Makarios Drousiotis and the lack of adequate investigations into the matter


Dear Mr Savvides, Ms Koukkides Procopiou and Mr Papatheodorou,


We, the undersigned international media freedom organisations and journalists’ associations, are highly concerned about the alleged surveillance of journalist Makarios Drousiotis, and the fact that there has not been a prompt, adequate or thorough investigation of the matter. As the responsible authorities, we call on you to act at last and ensure a proper investigation and prosecution of those responsible for any wrongdoing.


In recent years, Drousiotis, a well-known and widely-read investigative journalist, has published a series of books in which he has documented corruption in the Cypriot Government. Starting in February 2018, Drousiotis was allegedly spied on by the Cypriot Government using both eavesdropping techniques and spyware, as documented in the Report of the European Parliament on the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance software. At the time, Drousiotis was assistant to the Cypriot EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides. In parallel, he also investigated financial connections between the then-President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and Russian oligarchs.


Amidst revelations in the media about NSO Group operating from Cyprus and suspicions voiced by CitizenLab that the country used NSO technologies, Drousiotis noticed several indications of possible infiltration of his phone with Pegasus spyware. These included a suspicious missed WhatsApp call, rapid battery depletion, and frequent overheating of his device while he was not using it. In the following months, Drousiotis faced several intimidation attempts, including the disconnection of security cameras at his home and being followed by unknown persons.


After going public with his story and filing a complaint with the Cypriot police, Drousiotis contacted a private security expert who – unbeknownst to Drousiotis – also appears to cooperate on various projects with the Cypriot Government. The expert installed software on Drousiotis’s computer, which, without his consent, allowed remote access to all archives and data stored on the machine. These included sensitive information identifying Drousiotis’s sources, who had wished to remain anonymous.


Despite repeated requests to the Cypriot police, no progress in the investigation of the breach has been reported. A forensic lab in the Netherlands, which was provided with the same information that was shared with the police, has independently documented the security breach, which Drousiotis described in his book Mafia State: How the Gang Abolished the Rule of Law in Cyprus, published in September 2022.


It is wholly unacceptable that despite complaints to the authorities and repeated follow-ups by Drousiotis and his representatives, there has been no progress in the investigation and prosecution of these grave allegations. Intimidation, harassment and surreptitious surveillance of investigative reporters undermine their watchdog role and the protection of their journalistic sources, which are essential in a functioning democracy.


We call on you to step up and finally take the appropriate investigative measures and prosecutorial action. While respecting the confidentiality of the investigation, we also ask you to respect its basic transparency and duly inform the journalist and the public about the results. We stand in solidarity with Drousiotis and will continue to follow the case closely.



ARTICLE 19 Europe

Association of European Journalists (AEJ)

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries.

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Cyprus: TV station attacked by crowd protesting Covid measures…

Cyprus: TV station attacked by crowd protesting Covid measures and vaccination

A large crowd of demonstrators against new Covid-19 measures and mandatory vaccination attacked the Cypriot TV station Sigma TV on 18 July. The mob vandalised the station’s headquarters in Nicosia, throwing crackers, breaking windows and damaging cars outside the building. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliate, the Union of Cyprus Journalists, in condemning this brutal attack and calling on the authorities to conduct thorough investigations.

On Sunday evening, demonstrations against mandatory vaccination took place outside the Presidential Palace in the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia. Groups of protestors clashed with police and at around 9:30 PM local time, parts of the demonstration broke into the DIAS media group building that houses Sigma TV. The mob attacked staff, set cars in the parking lot on fire and brutally trashed the offices. Photos on the SigmaLive website show the extent of the damage.

The police confirmed that around 2,500 protesters took to the network. According to Sigma, “hooded thugs” attacked dozens of their colleagues working at the time. The police had entered the building to protect the workers.

Due to the rise in Covid-19 infections and the low rate of vaccination among young people in Cyprus, new measures were adopted, including mandatory vaccination and a so-called “SafePass” policy. In place since the 9th of July, the SafePass regulation obliges citizens aged 12 or older to possess and present either a vaccination certificate, proof of a Covid-19 contraction in the last six months or a negative PCR or rapid test with a 72-hour validity period. This SafePass is needed for entering the workplace, supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses.

The president of the Union of Cyprus Journalists, George Frangos, condemned the “abominable, insubordinate and dangerous” attacks which pose a threat to democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

“We call on the Prosecution Authorities of the state to act immediately and effectively so that those responsible for these illegal and anti-democratic acts are brought to justice and punished by example,” stated the Executive Committee of the Union of Cyprus Journalists.

According to media reports, five people are to appear before the court in connection to the attacks on Monday and the police are looking for ten more people while identifying more suspects from CCTV footage.

Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ General Secretary, reacted: “We welcome the ongoing investigations into these intolerable attacks, which we strongly condemn. This level of violence and disregard for media professionals is unprecedented in Cyprus and is further evidence of the need for greater protection for journalists.”