The National Intelligence Center (CNI) asked the Supreme Court in July 2019 to authorize espionage against then Catalan Vice President Pere Aragonès after concluding that he had “led” the independence activists who subsequently led the protests against the verdict led in the process, the so-called Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR). This is the most important revelation in the files of the Supreme Court that the government declassified on the 16th and that this Thursday found its way into the hands of the judge in Barcelona who is investigating the complaint filed by the President after learning that his mobile phone with which software was tracked. Pegasus. Aragonès' defense called the explanation “implausible” and sources close to the case assure that the documents submitted were incomplete and contained numerous deleted fragments.
The head of the Investigative Court No. 29 of Barcelona received this Thursday three orders from the Supreme Court that clarify the chronology of the surveillance of the Republican leader. The documents arrive exactly one day before the appearance of the former director of the CNI, Paz Esteban. The Center's first request to spy on Aragonès came in July 2019 and was justified because he “directed” the CDR “from the underground.” Subsequently, two extensions were requested to continue their investigations, one in October of the same year – coinciding with the protests in response to the Supreme Court ruling that condemned the leaders of the trial – and another in January 2020 – in full negotiations of Pedro's inauguration Sanchez.
The documents, which according to sources close to the case are incomplete and contain several illegible pages, suggest that Aragonès directed the activists' moves “always outside of his institutional role.” When surveillance was first approved, Aragonès was number two on Quim Torra's board and head of the ERC. From the records it appears that the CNI is interested in defending that its request was not due to the institutional role of the Catalan Vice President, but to the leadership and coordination work of the activists who, for example, after hearing the Supreme Court, tried to El Prat airport to occupy court ruling. about the process.
The CDR, which on paper lacked leaders and was a spontaneous movement, began operating in the fall of 2017, trying to ensure that the October 1 independence referendum, which the Constitutional Court declared illegal at the time, would take place. They then organized protest and boycott actions during periods of highest political tension in Catalonia. In addition to the attempt to occupy the airport – the National Court also sees former President Carles Puigdemont and the Secretary General of the ERC, Marta Rovira, as organizing the so-called Democratic Tsunami – they have cut off roads and railway tracks.
Sources from Pedro Sánchez's executive branch stated on Thursday evening as to the level of knowledge of these interceptions: “They are caused by operations initiated by the CNI before our assumption of power and they have always had judicial authorization.” The same sources from La Moncloa state that ” neither the CNI nor the Supreme Court logically have to inform the government”. And they add: “This very government has decided to cooperate with the judiciary and release this information at the request of a judge, always in the context of national security.” This information shows that the rule of law now functions and acts transparently. Has nothing to do with the parallel police and the dirty war of the PP stage.”
The independent spying scandal came to light in April 2022 following a report by Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity group affiliated with the University of Toronto, Canada. According to research conducted by this newspaper, at least 63 politicians, lawyers and independence activists were targeted by Pegasus on key days of the Catalan secession movement after 2017. The government then explained that there were court orders to carry out some of the hacks, such as in the case of Aragonès. Sánchez himself and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were also wiretapped by the same espionage program.
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In fact, the judge who investigated the complaint filed by the president also requested the release of other CNI documents related to the use of Pegasus, such as who approved the purchase and who had access. However, the government rejected this request on the grounds that it could jeopardize the security of secret service agents.
Those around Aragonès have described the CNI's justifications before the Supreme Court as “unbelievable” and hope to learn the content of Esteban's testimony. By the time of the succession, his ERC party had already distanced itself from the most radical part of the independence movement, which called for unilateral independence and continued to claim that the result of the October 1 vote was an endorsement of the Declaration of Independence. The lawyers supporting the president have already filed a lawsuit against the justice secretary handling the case because she was part of the justice commission sent to the Ministry of Economy in September 2017 and the building on the grounds that it was a protest , had to leave through the roof of the building. On the street towards the registry office, it was not possible to leave the property safely.
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