The Catalan government has accused Spain of spying on its offices abroad, looking for pro-independence bias, following the disclosure of documents by the online newspaper eldiario.es and Catalan public TV.
It has been reported that Madrid intercepted confidential communications between Catalan officials and the government’s delegates in London, Geneva, and Berlin, and presented them as evidence in a lawsuit seeking the suspension of Catalonia’s foreign offices.
Spain’s Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell, has described Catalonia’s delegations abroad as ‘harmful to Spain’s image’ and announced that Madrid would try to have the delegations in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Germany closed down.
The disclosed documents include information on the daily activities of the Catalan delegates, the meetings they attended, and their activity on social media. There are also reports on events organised abroad by the government.
One document, for example, describes the Catalan delegate to Switzerland as an ‘activist’ working ‘against’ the general interests of Spain and it goes on to question his legal status in the country.
Another from the Spanish embassy in Germany says the foreign office had instructions from Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party head, Oriol Junqueras, to contact religious representatives with the ‘aim’ of gaining the support of the Church for ‘the situation of the Catalan political prisoners’.
The same report informs on the activities of the Berlin delegate who, as with the one in Switzerland, is said to be ‘spreading the pro-independence message’, considered key in ‘boosting the international image’ of the independence cause.
Catalan president Quim Torra has called for Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, to step down for what he has called ‘Borrellgate’.
Calling the minister’s actions ‘extremely serious’, Torra also said he would be informing European consulates of the Spanish government’s spying.
The Catalan foreign minister, Alfred Bosch, Tweeted that ‘Borrell’s espionage case is a democratic scandal’, and asked, ‘What resources have been used and who else has been persecuted? We demand to know everything.’