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It is, to say the least, suspicious that Spain is the only member state of the European Union that has responded with silence to the request for information which the European Commission (EC) made in May. No one is going to show their blushes about it, because if they were to do so, it would suggest they really knew the truth about the most important case of illegal espionage in Western Europe known to date involving the Pegasus software developed by the Israeli company NSO Technologies. It is not superfluous to remember that in that investigation, colloquially known as Catalangate, the Citizen Lab research centre at the University of Toronto released a list of 65 people who were spied on, mainly politicians, among them three presidents of Catalonia - Pere Aragonès, Quim Torra and Artur Mas - as well as a series of activists, businesspeople, journalists, computer scientists and more. What all of them had in common was their affiliation or sympathy with the Catalan pro-independence world.

Bearing in mind that Pegasus can only be acquired by governments, it would be interesting one day to know the truth that the Spanish government has conveniently hidden, after finding an escape valve for the pressure of the moment by sacking the director of the National Intelligence Centre (CNI). Obviously, it was not a high price to pay given the international dimension of the scandal, because persecuting political adversaries is, in addition to being illegal, quite ugly and usually not only leads to major scandal but also a significant political cost. In Spain, as has already been seen, such an action works out quite cheaply, because spying on the Catalan independence movement is taken for granted and finds a great consensus at political, judicial, media and even public levels. The fact that Greece, Hungary and Poland have already offered their written responses to the EC after Brussels's request and that Spain is reluctant to provide it with any account at all shows that they are also incompetent, because no one expects the truth to be put in writing and an admission to be made that an illegal action has been executed.

The Sánchez government has, in its efforts to shield itself, employed not only this silence and a veto against a commission of inquiry, with the ever-rabid support of the People's Party, Vox and Ciudadanos. As well, out of the magician's hat - or to put it another way, out of fear - has come the proposal, so characteristic, for a 50 year period - and if necessary, 10 further years as a bonus - during which the state's top secrets are to remain hidden. Spain will, here undoubtedly, be in the first rank of democratic countries when it comes to the length of time it can hide information from public opinion. This, an authentic scandal of democracy, which was presented just before the summer by the Spanish minister for the PM's department, Félix Bolaños, has a certain acquiescence from the parties of the regime, and will only be modified if the collective shame and the possible build up of pressure requires it. It only takes a small calculation to work out when we will be able to find out what really happened in the coup attempt of 1981 or the independence process of Catalonia in 2017.

The words of the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in the debate on the State of the Union, which is being held these days in Strasbourg, the French seat of the European Parliament, were, in response to the Pegasus espionage, that democracy must be strengthened from within each state. It's a way of passing the buck, of course. The issue arises when not only is democracy not defended fully, but also a state practices illegal acts such as mass espionage on political opponents. Then, the European Commission can do two things: pretend nothing has happened, as it has done up till now, or try to preserve democratic values. The European club has chosen to look the other way, because partners are partners and speeches are one thing and actions another. We get the message. But let no one be alarmed if one day this Europe that we have so idealized ends up being a place where it is difficult to defend democratic values.