Madrid, April 19, 2022 (AFP) – The Spanish government vehemently denied Tuesday (19) spying on dozens of Catalan separatist leaders, who the day before accused the state of monitoring them via a mobile app.
“This is a democratic and legal country, there is no espionage here, there is no intervention in conversation, no information is given out if it is not under the protection of the law, the law,” government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez told a news conference.
The Catalan separatist movement on Monday accused the Spanish state of spying on its more than 60 leaders through the Israeli software Pegasus, which can only be acquired by states or governments, after the scheme was revealed in a report by Citizen Lab, a Canadian organization. based at the University of Toronto.
Catalan regional president Pere Aragonés rejected Rodríguez’s explanation and demanded that Pedro Sánchez’s government investigate these allegations thoroughly.
“The Spanish government must provide an explanation and act with maximum transparency,” Aragonés told a news conference in Barcelona, calling for “an internal investigation with independent oversight.”
“Illegally spying on political enemies takes us far from resolving political conflicts with the state,” he warned.
Nearly all of the incidents with this Israeli program, which lets you read messages and remotely activate your phone’s camera and microphone, occurred between 2017 and 2020.
Among those affected are current Catalan regional president Pere Aragonés (while he was regional vice president), former Catalan presidents Quim Torra and Artur Mas, members of parliament, Catalan regional parliament deputies and members of separatist civic organizations, according to Citizen Lab.
Former Catalan President and MEP Carles Puigdemont, who left for Belgium to escape justice after Catalonia’s failed secession in October 2017, was not directly attacked, but many people around him, including his wife, added the agency. .
“We are being spied on massively and illegally through a program that only the state can own. Politicians, lawyers and activists, victims of Spain’s dirty war,” Puigdemont tweeted Monday.
On Tuesday, he said he hoped the Spanish state would be held accountable.
“What I expect from the Spanish state now is that they take responsibility. They will know who will answer,” Puigdemont said at a news conference at the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels. Puigdemont stressed that “this is a corrupt system”.
For more than a decade, Catalonia has been the focus of a struggle between separatism, which has controlled the regional government and parliament for years, and Spain’s central executive.
The breaking point came in October 2017, when an illegal referendum on self-determination and a failed declaration of independence took place in the region.
Tensions have dropped drastically since Pedro Sánchez’s socialist government launched negotiations with independence supporters in February 2020 and pardoned nine separatist leaders arrested over 2017 events in June 2021.
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