20th July 2024
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Media groups uncover alleged illegal investigation of Catalan independence groups by Spanish government led by Rajoy

A recent inquiry conducted by Spanish media outlets La Vanguardia, El Diario and El Nacional has exposed the alleged illegal use of the country’s national police force to probe Catalan pro-independence groups.

The Spanish government, led by former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (pictured in 2017) from the right-wing People’s Party (PP), reportedly assigned members of the Spanish police leadership to this operation with the objective of thwarting the push for independence in Catalonia.

This alleged process spanned five years, commencing from Catalonia’s 2012 National ‘Diada’ Day rally until 2016, and was reportedly executed ‘outside the law’, utilising public resources.

Newly disclosed documents, statements and audio recordings provided by the news outlets indicate that the then-Spanish interior minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, directed ‘Operation Catalonia’. Sensitive documents were sent to the Spanish government headquarters in blank, sealed envelopes, without any indication of the subject matter, sender or recipient.

The investigation claims that the main heads of the Spanish police, including Deputy Director of Operations Eugenio Pino, who reported directly to the interior minister, were complicit in and supportive of these actions.

Simultaneously, Daniel de Alfonso, the former director of the Anti-Fraud Office of Catalonia, gathered information about the independence movement, transferring it to the ministry, according to the media reports.

Many of these investigations, according to the inquiry, were politically motivated without specific legal grounds, a practice explicitly prohibited.

According to the media groups’ investigation, Fernández Díaz instructed his chief of staff, Francisco Martínez, to coordinate with former police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo to compile this information. Martínez then ordered that relevant data be delivered in writing.

This marked Villarejo’s introduction to high-ranking officials in the interior ministry, initiating the creation of his ‘informational notes,’ details of which have surfaced in the media in recent years. ALSO READ: Spain’s elite shaken by ‘blackmailer’ cop, Villarejo.

The term ‘Operation Catalonia’ denotes an alleged covert smear campaign against members of the Catalan independence movement devised by Spanish National Police officers and the interior ministry under Mariano Rajoy’s right-wing Spanish government.

The Spanish Congress voted in favor of initiating an investigation into ‘Operation Catalonia’ in September 2022. The investigation was to scrutinise ‘alleged irregularities linking high-ranking officials and police commands, their potential association with private networks or lobbies, interference in the sovereignty of other countries, and connections with the so-called Operation Catalonia.’

ALSO READ: ‘CatalanGate’: politicians, activists accuse Spain of ‘huge & illegal’ spying.

Citizen Lab’s full report: CatalanGate: Extensive Mercenary Spyware Operation against Catalans Using Pegasus and Candiru.

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