13th April 2024
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Spying dossier on Catalan president Pere Aragonès to be ‘partially declassified’

The Spanish cabinet has approved the ‘partial declassification’ of surveillance documentation concerning Catalan president Pere Aragonès [pictured with Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez], during 2020 when he served as vice-president of the Catalan government.

Referred to as ‘CatalanGate’, the declassification is expected to unveil the legal reasoning behind the judge’s authorisation for the surveillance, but it will exclude details about the methods and documents used by Spain’s secret service agency, the National Intelligence Center (CNI), who conducted the operation. ALSO READ: Spain’s spy chief sacked, following phone hacking scandal.

The ‘Catalangate’ scandal involved the targeting of Aragonès and numerous pro-independence figures with Pegasus phone-hacking spyware. This revelation initially came to light through Citizen Lab, a research group based at the University of Toronto specialising in high-tech human rights abuses, and was subsequently published in The New Yorker magazine in April 2020. ALSO READ: ‘CatalanGate’: politicians, activists accuse Spain of ‘huge & illegal’ spying.

In response to a Barcelona court’s investigation into the spying of Aragonès, the Spanish government has agreed to declassify specific documents. Once approved, these declassified materials will be provided to the judge overseeing the case, who will then decide whether to share them with the involved parties. ALSO READ: Spanish court calls NSO Group’s CEO to testify in cell phone spying case.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Spanish government spokeswoman Pilar Alegría said that this partial declassification is a specific response to the Barcelona judge’s request and highlights the government’s commitment to maximum collaboration with the judiciary.

In December, Aragonès testified as a victim in the Pegasus spyware scandal, expressing the importance of revealing the entire truth about espionage. He stated his determination to ensure that no other Catalan citizen would be subjected to surveillance based on their political ideology.

Confirming Pegasus espionage, the Catalan police, Mossos d’Esquadra, acknowledged for the first time that the mobile phones of pro-independence leaders, including MP Josep Maria Jové, MEP Diana Riba, and former MEP Sergi Sabrià, all from the Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party, were indeed targeted with Pegasus software. The Mossos’ scientific police unit has submitted its report to the court handling the investigation.

ALSO READ: Media groups uncover alleged illegal investigation of Catalan independence groups by Spanish government led by Rajoy.

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