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Anything is justified in the defence of Spain. This sordid explanation from the former Spanish minister of the interior, Juan Ignacio Zoido, who held the post between 2016 and 2018, and was therefore responsible for security at the height of the Catalan independence process - the time of the laws of disconnection, the referendum and the proclamation of independence in Parliament - should really be a letter of introduction for the MEPs of the Pegasus committee who are visiting Madrid on Monday and Tuesday. Zoido is not a figure from the past: he is currently a member of the European Parliament and acting as coordinator for the committee that has to analyze the espionage against Catalan independence activists. Spain has chosen some of the key positions on the Pegasus committee in order to try and play down the importance of the international espionage scandal. And it has reduced the importance of the dialogue of its contacts with the European committee to the point of placing it in the hands of a secretary of state, a ministerial undersecretary, who is as distant from what is being investigated as the secretary of state for the European Union. If this had been done by a People's Party (PP) government instead of the one made up of the Socialists (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos, the protests of both the Spanish and the Catalan left would be heard thousands of miles away. Now, instead, there is only silence.

Ten years of persecution and espionage will not disappear into nothing. That is certain. It will be a matter of time and it will be too late to know the truth. Now, news from the year 2012 is beginning to be confirmed. With dates well out of sync with reality, but no one any longer disputes that there was an Operation Catalonia that carried out its share of illegal investigation of political and social leaders, and which also penetrated financial, business and media spheres. The Spanish state does not dispute this, although what it does do, is justify it. It is not disputed by the police involved in the corrupt and illegal plot, with former police commissioner Villarejo at the head. And nor is it disputed by the newspapers that denied this politico-police action or looked the other way and now, almost a decade later, are competing for the headlines over the allegations of what happened in those years.

Zoido was not there in 2012, but Jorge Fernández Díaz was. Nor is he there now, as he was replaced by Fernando Grande-Marlaska in June 2018 and is still in office. But there is an invisible thread linking the three Spanish interior ministers of the last decade: anything is justified in the defence of Spain. Sometimes with more sloppiness and at others trying to go a little more incognito, but spying on Catalan independence activists has been an illegal and shady constant. It shouldn't take much for members of the European Parliament committee to come to this conclusion, as the trail is relatively easy to follow. I doubt very much that it is possible to find a state in our neighbourhood in which it can be certified that four consecutive presidents, in this case of Catalonia, have suffered a situation like this. From Artur Mas to Pere Aragonès, passing through Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra.

The last of these, president Aragonès, dates from the prime ministerial accession of Pedro Sánchez and came to power at key moments in Spanish and Catalan politics. One of those moments being, when his ERC party had to decide its political position in the Congress of Deputies. And that ERC would be a stable ally of Sánchez's parliamentary majority in the Congress of Deputies. Surely, we know only the tip of the iceberg of what the Spanish state has been doing with Catalonia, of the information obtained and, even, of the use of it that it has been able to make. Because what is certain is that communications have been violated, political resources have been used to eliminate political opponents, and numerous illegal actions have been carried out. And it has shamelessly looked the other way in the name of the unity of Spain.