The vote was put forward by the leftist opposition over a wiretapping scandal targeting politicians, army top brass and journalists.

The censure motion on Friday was defeated by 156 votes to 143.
The censure motion on Friday was defeated by 156 votes to 143. (Petros Giannakouris / AP)

Greece's government has survived a no-confidence vote called by the opposition over a long-running wiretap scandal in which top officials were targeted by state intelligence for months.

The censure motion on Friday was defeated by not a very big margin  – 156 votes to 143 – parliament vice chairman Haralambos Athanassiou told the chamber after an official count.

Leftist former PM Alexis Tsipras had called for the no-confidence vote on Wednesday, calling Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis the "mastermind and leader" behind a "criminal network" that had wiretapped officials' phones.

Mitsotakis insisted the wiretaps cited by Tsipras had been approved by a prosecutor at the state intelligence agency, and were thus legal, without providing more details.

"The (monitoring) was legal, we need to clarify this," the PM said.

The wiretapping scandal broke out in earnest in August, when a top government aide and the head of the country’s intelligence agency resigned following revelations that a Socialist politician who was later elected as head of Greece’s third largest party had been under telephone surveillance. 

Allegations that other senior officials, journalists and cabinet members had also been targeted with spyware that can snoop on cell phone calls, stored contacts and data, and access devices’ microphones and cameras prompted a judicial investigation.

The government has denied any wrongdoing or knowingly wiretapping anyone.

READ MORE: Greece top court prosecutor under opposition fire in surveillance scandal

'Orwellian dystopia'

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Tsipras said Greece’s Authority for Communication Security and Privacy had confirmed, following a request he had made to it for further information, that others who had also been placed under telephone surveillance included the government’s own labour minister, the head of the National Defence General Staff, the former head of the army, a former national security adviser, and the former and current heads of defence armaments.

He accused Mitsotakis of “setting up an Orwellian dystopia” and of masterminding what he called a “criminal network” running the wiretaps.

“How patriotic is it for you to have under surveillance the leadership of the armed forces? I ask you,” Tsipras said during Friday's heated parliamentary debate.

The incumbent premier's New Democracy party has seen its strong lead hurt by the scandal as well as by the increased cost of living.

Greece is to hold elections in the first half of 2023, although no date has yet been set.

READ MORE: Greek army chief allegedly bought penthouse with 'black money': report

Source: TRTWorld and agencies