Computer Crime Research Center


The New Face of Cybercrime in Greece

Date: February 29, 2008
By: Panayotis A. Yannakogeorgos

An international investigation, conducted by the Hellenic National Police�s cybercrime unit, which aims to identify the owners and operators of the allegedly libelous blog, culminated this past Friday with the confiscation of computers belonging to journalist Andreas Kapsambelis. As of this writing, the investigation continues to identify other anonymous contributors to the blog, including one operating within the Hellenic Parliament.

The Press-GR blog has been a target of at least one-hundred lawsuits since 2006, when it began publishing allegedly libelous articles targeting politicians across the political spectrum, Greek Orthodox Church leaders and journalists. The only problem was that, there was no way to prosecute the anonymous bloggers without breaching the confidentiality of private data protected under Greek law. Had the bloggers continued posting articles on the World Wide Web, they might have been able to continue their operation without having to worry about the special prosecutor lifting this protection. However, the bloggers crossed a red line by following up on their e-libel with attempts to blackmail the targets on at least one occasion. In his lawsuit against Press-GR, journalist Vassilis Hiotis alleges that, after a series of blog posts targeting him, he received an anonymous e-mail demanding 30,000 euros in exchange for an end to such posts. This charge of blackmail provided a special prosecutor with the justification to authorize the Hellenic National Police�s cybercrime unit to initiate the ongoing international investigation aiming to identify the anonymous bloggers.

The investigation, which according to media reports, spans Greece, Cyprus, Columbia, Afghanistan and Google headquarters in the United States, was conducted in accordance with the Council of Europe�s Convention on Cybercrime (COE Convention). This convention aims to enhance the cooperation of its signatories, including the United States, in cybercrime investigations by harmonizing the domestic legal and technical frameworks to meet the challenge of the misuse of elements of cyberspace, such as the Internet. Such legislation was required due to the technical complexities in chasing criminals in an electromagnetic wilderness. Key elements of the COE Convention include provisions on the harmonization of procedural law, the establishment of an international �24/7 Network� staffed by properly equipped and trained personnel who can address instances of cybercrime. Significantly, the COE Convention solves the problem of transnational extradition in cases of transnational cybercrime. While a lot of work needs to be done to implement all of its elements in practice, the current investigation indicates that it has produced results.

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