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Calls grow for investigation into alleged Spanish spying of Catalan independence figures

Basque, Galician, Valencian and anti-austerity groups join Catalan pro-independence parties' demand for commission of inquiry 

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20 July 2020 05:08 PM

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ACN | Barcelona/Madrid

A coalition of Catalan, Basque, Galician, Valencian and anti-austerity parties have demanded a committee of inquiry be set up in Spain's Congress to investigate spying and "the intrusion on privacy and intimacy of political leaders, institutions, and individuals by the public structures of the Spanish state."

The phones of Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent and other pro-independence activists were targeted using spyware that experts say is only sold to governments to track criminals and terrorists, as revealed last week following a joint investigation by The Guardian and El País newspapers.

The petition – presented to Spain's lower parliamentary chamber by JxCat, ERC, CUP, EH Bildu, EAJ-PNV, Más País, Unidas Podemos, BNG and Compromís – aims to discover "in detail" the involvement of Spanish state institutions in the alleged "illegal intrusions" as well as the "responsibility and misuse of the technical structures of the Defense, Interior, Foreign, and Justice departments, and any links these have to espionage."

The signatories to the proposal state that, although the public authorities have denied any links to the facts, "it is known that the Spanish police and National Intelligence Center (CNI) used software for interfering with mobile phones and electronic devices."

Specifically, the parties note that "due to an internal leak of more than 400 emails, it was made public that the Spanish government was a customer - at least until 2015 - of NSO's Italian competitor, Hacking Team."

Torrent, along with current MP and former Catalan government minister Ernest Maragall, has announced a lawsuit against the former head of the CNI, Félix Sanz Roldán, accusing him of political espionage.

Other figures allegedly targeted by the Pegasus software, made by Israeli company NSO, include Anna Gabriel, a former MP for the far-left CUP party currently in exile in Switzerland; Jordi Domingo, a member of the Catalan National Assembly grassroots group; Jordi Puigneró, the current Catalan minister for Digital Policies; and Sergi Miquel, a close collaborator of Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan president exiled in Belgium.

"This government is not spying on anyone"

The first vice president of the Spanish government, Carmen Calvo, says that neither the current executive nor the previous one, also led by the Socialists, has anything to do with the hacking of Torrent and Maragall's phones.

"This government does not spy on anyone. Political opponents are not spied on, we are in dialogue with them," she said in an interview with 'eldiario.es' on Sunday.

On the other hand, Calvo's cabinet colleague Pablo Iglesias who leads Podemos, the smaller party in Spain's governing coalition, has called for a parliamentary committee.

"For me, as well as being obviously a judicial matter, it's a political one," he said, adding that "this kind of practice is unacceptable in a democracy."

Catalan parliament studying options

As well as taking actions as an affected individual, speaker Torrent says that the "attack was on mobile phones belonging to parliament," and, as such, the Catalan chamber as an institution will study if it can also take some kind of legal action.

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  • Parliament speaker Roger Torrent, July 8, 2020 (by Gerard Artigas)

  • Parliament speaker Roger Torrent, July 8, 2020 (by Gerard Artigas)

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