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Greek Government Rocked by Resignations Amid Long-Simmering Surveillance Scandal

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Greece’s conservative government was rocked Friday by a long-simmering surveillance scandal after its intelligence chief and a close aide to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis resigned in the space of an hour. Panagiotis Kontoleon offered his resignation due to management “errors” during his time in the role, Mitsotakis’ office said in a statement.

The announcement that Kontoleon had resigned from his position at the head of national intelligence service EYP came less than an hour after the secretary general of the prime minister’s office, Grigoris Dimitriadis, also quit.

The resignations came a week after the leader of the country’s Socialist opposition party, Nikos Androulakis, filed a complaint with the supreme court over “attempted” spying on his mobile phone using Predator malware.

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Two Greek journalists have also taken legal action this year after they claimed to have been victims of surveillance.

Androulakis on Friday called for a special investigation by parliament into the incident.

“I never expected the Greek government to spy on me using the darkest practices,” he said.

The government has consistently denied any state involvement, saying it had not bought software of that type, but the rows have sparked an outcry in the country.

Government spokesman Yiannis Economou has said it was “plausible” that individuals used Predator to spy and that all of Europe faced surveillance threats.

In November, Greek minister of state George Gerapetritis had insisted to AFP that there is “no surveillance of journalists in Greece” by the state.

“Greece fully adheres to the values of democratic society and rule of law, especially pluralism and the freedom of the press,” Gerapetritis said.

As such, he argued there was “no need for further action” to verify the alleged monitoring of investigative journalist Stavros Malichudis.

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Kontoleon, who was appointed EYP head in 2019 after Mitsotakis’s conservative party won power that year, had implied while in that role that the journalists had been targeted on the order of foreign intelligence services.

Investigative websites Reporters United and Inside Story have accused Dimitriadis — a nephew of Mitsotakis — of being linked to the alleged spying scandals involving Androulakis and Greek financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis.

Dimitriadis on Friday threatened to sue Reporters United and leftist daily Efsyn unless they withdraw a story on the case. Koukakis was also warned to refrain from retweeting the story.

In one of his first acts upon assuming power in 2019, Mitsotakis raised eyebrows by attaching the national intelligence service to his office.

The main opposition party, the left-wing Syriza, called the affair “a huge scandal”. Its leader, former premier Alexis Tsipras, said the resignation of Dimitriadis was “an admission of guilt” and that Mitsotakis himself bore some of the responsibility.

“Mr Mitsotakis must give explanations to the Greek people over his own Watergate,” Tsipras said.

A dystopian, Orwellian reality

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Experts note that Predator, originally developed in North Macedonia and subsequently in Israel, can access both messages and conversations.

“A few days ago I was informed by the European Parliament that there was an attempt to bug my mobile phone with Predator surveillance software,” Androulakis told the media as he left a court in Athens on July 26.

“Finding out who is behind these harmful practices is not a personal matter but a democratic duty,” he added.

The European Parliament set up a special service for MEPs to check their phones for illegal surveillance software following hacks using a spyware similar to Predator called Pegasus.

Androulakis used the service for “a precautionary check of his phone on June 28, 2022”.

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“From the first check, a suspicious link related to the Predator surveillance tool was detected,” his PASOK party said in a statement.

The software can infiltrate mobile phones to extract data or activate a camera or microphone to spy on their owners.

“Predator is among the most expensive spyware and is out of reach for individuals,” cybersecurity specialist Anastasios Arampatzis told AFP, saying only a state would need its sophisticated security features.

“Security and the protection of one’s private life must be guaranteed by any democratic regime. If a state spies on its citizens, we’re heading towards a dystopian, Orwellian reality.”

Spain’s intelligence chief was sacked earlier this year after it emerged that top politicians — including Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Catalan separatists — had been targeted by phone hacking.

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iPhone 14 Pro Models Said to Offer 128GB Storage, Same as iPhone 13 Series

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iPhone 14 series has been part of several leaks and rumours for the past few months. The upcoming Apple iPhone lineup could include four models — iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Max, and iPhone 14 Pro Max — and they are expected to be launched on September 13. The iPhone 14 Pro models were earlier speculated to come with increased storage capacity over the previous models. They were claimed to start with 256GB of storage, compared to 128GB of the iPhone 13 Pro models. Now, in a new development, a market research analyst suggests that upcoming Pro models will continue to offer 128GB of storage.

Earlier, research firm TrendForce reportedly suggested that the iPhone 14 Pro models will start with 256GB storage. Now, a new report by MacRumors, quoting Haitong International Securities Tech Research Analyst Jeff Pu, said that the upcoming iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to offer 128GB of storage as its predecessors, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro.

The analyst has reportedly mentioned that the iPhone 14 Pro models will be available in the same storage capacities — 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB — as the iPhone 13 Pro models.

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Earlier this week, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that iPhone 14 Pro models could be launched at a higher price than their predecessors. The ASP of the iPhone 14 Pro series is estimated to climb by about 15 percent to $1,000 – $1,050 (roughly Rs. 79,000 – Rs. 83,000) for the upcoming iPhone 14 series, compared to the iPhone 13 series ASP. The iPhone 13 Pro was unveiled in India last year with a price tag of Rs. 1,19,900 for the base 128GB storage model.

Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 14 series on September 13. The iPhone 14 Pro models could be powered by the new A16 Bionic chip. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max, on the other hand, are expected to pack the A15 Bionic chip that is available on the current iPhone 13 devices.


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OnePlus Co-Founder Pete Lau Hints at Upcoming Foldable Phone

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OnePlus is reportedly gearing up to launch its first foldable smartphone sometime soon. In a new update, OnePlus co-founder Pete Lau shared pictures of a hinge on Twitter on Friday to offer hints about the development of a foldable smartphone without confirming the name and other details. Samsung currently has an early lead in the foldable smartphone category. Xiaomi recently introduced Xiaomi Mix Fold 2. Moto Razr 2022 has also arrived in China. OnePlus’s sister firm Oppo also marked its presence in the foldable smartphone market by unveiling the Find N foldable at the end of last year.

Pete Lau on Twitter posted pictures with the tagline “What do you think this is?”. This could be possibly the folding screen hinge mechanism of the upcoming OnePlus phone. Although the company has not confirmed anything, it is largely speculated that the OnePlus Fold may break cover soon. It is rumoured to come with Android 13.

OnePlus hasn’t yet revealed any details about the foldable so far. But it could offer some similarities to Oppo’s Find N which was launched in December 2021.

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The Oppo Find N sports a 7.1-inch inward folding display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 5.49-inch cover OLED display. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC, coupled with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage. For optics, the Oppo Find N has a triple rear camera setup with a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 primary sensor, a 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens, and a 13-megapixel telephoto lens. A 32-megapixel camera on the outer screen, a 32-megapixel camera on the inner screen, 4,500mAh battery with 33W SuperVOOC wired charging support are the other key highlights of the phone.

Samsung currently dominates the foldable smartphone market as per a report by Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC). The company recently unveiled its latest foldable smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 . Huawei, Motorola and Xiaomi are also introducing new foldable models. Huawei with its Mate X and Mate X2 foldable smartphones marked its presence in the space, while      the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 and Moto Razr 2022 debuted in China recently.


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Samsung to Charge Less for Galaxy Z Fold 4, Galaxy Z Flip 4 Screen Repair for Care+ Subscribers: Report

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 were launched globally at the company’s Unpacked event this week. To encourage users to buy the new foldable devices, the South Korean smartphone company is reportedly lowering the repair cost significantly under the Samsung Care+ subscription plan this year. The Samsung Care+ plan comes with coverage for drops, spills and cracked screens. Eligible subscribers could change their damaged screen of new foldable phones by paying $29 (roughly Rs. 2,300).

The foldable phones by Samsung come with one year of Samsung Care+ accidental damage protection. As mentioned, this covers the devices from accidental damage, including screen replacement, water damage and back cover replacement. However, after the warranty period, users have to pay the full price for a foldable screen replacement.

As reported by The Verge, the repair costs for the new Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 now start at $29 for fixing a broken screen. The screen repair for the previous generation Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 costs $249 (roughly Rs. 19,800) out of the standard warranty for people with the $11 (roughly Rs. 800) per month Samsung Care+ plan. As per the Samsung Support page, the out-of-warranty screen repairs without the Samsung Care+ costs up to $480 (roughly Rs. 38,200) for these models.

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The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 are set to hit stores in the coming weeks with minor upgrades over their predecessors — the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3. Pre-booking for the devices in India will start on August 16 at 12pm (noon). Both the new phones are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC and support a variable refresh rate. They have Corning Gorilla Glass Victus Plus protection on the display and rear glass and are IPX8 rated for dust and water resistance.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 comes at a starting price of $1,799.99 (roughly Rs. 1,42,700), while the price of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 starts at $999 (roughly Rs. 79,000). 


What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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