Wednesday. 08.02.2023
SCANDAL

Spanish government promises probe into Catalonian separatists spying

Catalonia's regional government head Pere Aragonès has already threatened to withdraw his support if the issue is not clarified and if no one steps down

24 April 2022, Spain, Barcelona: Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Cortes and Democratic Memory of Spain Felix Bolanos makes a statement following a meeting with his Catalan colleague Laura Vilagra. Photo: Lorena Sopêna/EUROPA PRESS/dpa.
Minister of the Presidency Felix Bolanos makes a statement following a meeting with his Catalan colleague Laura Vilagra. Photo: Lorena Sopêna/dpa.

The Spanish government plans to investigate claims that dozens of Catalonian separatists were subject to systematic surveillance through Israeli Pegasus spyware, in a scandal that has threatened to topple the government.

Presidential Minister Felix Bolaños announced the plans on Sunday following a meeting with his Catalan colleague Laura Vilagra. However she slammed the announcement as "insufficient" and vowed there would be "serious consequences" if no one in Madrid was forced to resign over the issue.

The government has denied all responsibility for the allegations that were published in the New Yorker magazine. The report, based on a study by the Canadian research group Citizen Lab, claims more than 60 Catalonian separatist leaders and some of their staff and family were subject to surveillance.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has to address the allegations, as he depends on the support of separatist lawmakers in his minority government.

Catalonia's regional government head Pere Aragonès has already threatened to withdraw his support if the issue is not clarified and if no one steps down.

The Catalonians believe they were spied on by Spain's secret service CNI using the Pegasus software from Israeli company NSO Group.

Secret services

Bolaños said the government would call on the parliamentary oversight committee for the secret services, which has long been blocked, to look into the allegations.

He also promised that CNI would cooperate with the investigation and that CNI would also carry out an internal probe. The government will cooperate with the judiciary, including over the submission of classified documents, he said.

Relations between Catalonia and the central government have been fraught for years and reached a low point in 2017 when the regional government forced an illegal independence referendum. Several leading Catalonian politicians ended up in exile or imprisoned.

The government has recently tried to restore relations, but that has been put at risk by the latest allegations.

Spanish government promises probe into Catalonian separatists spying
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