Josep Borrell, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, could not have been more forceful: the alleged European intelligence report linking the Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, through his office director, Josep Alay, with a Russian plot related to that country's intelligence services, does not exist. There is no record of it. It is a fake document: the European Union's Intelligence and Situation Centre (EU INTCEN) does not recognize its existence and, obviously, denies having written it. Thus, like a house of cards, the report by The New York Times that caused so much controversy and filled pages and more pages of all of the Spanish and Catalan media has been dismantled - and there are quite a few, both here and over there, who always have Catalan president Puigdemont as the enemy to beat at any price and with whatever information.
The New York Times has made a mistake and it shows that even the most important newspaper on the planet can be vulnerable. The newspaper has its own internal investigation procedures and it will be necessary to know how a report which surely the Spanish foreign ministry must be behind, and a document, which at best might come from the Spanish Civil Guard, ended up being quoted in the pages of the Times as a European intelligence report. It would also be good to know if it is true that before one of the journalists ended up signing it, another objected to what was being stated and the insistence with which it was being said; or even if there were people who did not want to sign it. The truth is that if the article had been reviewed in Barcelona and not in Madrid, that truculent Russian-Catalan story would have been subject to a phase of reflection that might have ended up with it being put aside.
The most unprecedented thing about this journalistic fable is how someone might have thought that Catalan pro-independence politicians had been able to get to the Kremlin itself and get the support of the Putin government for the Catalan pro-independence process. Not to mention the publication of a report from the Civil Guard stating that Russia had been prepared to send 10,000 troops in the middle of Catalonia's independence process. Turning police investigations and journalistic reports into a science fiction tales may be part of the intoxication carried out by governments and intelligence services, but it rarely corresponds to reality.
The snowball grew so large that even in the European Parliament, through an amendment moved by the European Socialist group that ended up being passed, an investigation was sought into the contacts of Puigdemont's circle with Russia, "since it could to be an example of Russian interference in EU member states and of Russia's constant attempts to exploit any possible issue to promote the destabilization of the EU." That it had to be Josep Borrell, because of the position he occupies, who put himself at the head of the denial of The New York Times's source and thus defended Puigdemont's honour in this matter has a certain touch of poetic justice.
It only remains, as the final task in disposing of this huge load of hogwash, to see the treatment of it given by the Spanish print press and the radio and television broadcasters that wholly bought into a report that now no one considers theirs. And how they end up correcting all those pages they filled with the affair, which will now undoubtedly be somewhat fewer. Drastically fewer. It's a part of trench-warfare journalism: ensuring the incendiary impact is as great as possible, and whatever might happen later will be considered when it arrives.