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A manifesto praising Francisco Franco, originally signed by 181 retired Spanish military leaders, now has well over 600 signatories, including some important names, former members of the most senior ranks of the Spanish armed forces, publicly expressing admiration for the dictator.

The text describes itself as a "declaration of respect and atonement to general Francisco Franco Bahamonde, 'Soldier of Spain'". Franco led the Nationalist side for most of the Civil War and then was dictator of Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975. The signatories believe he has been "vilified to inconceivable extents, without any objectivity, based on the distortion of history and with spurious aims which make any scholar of the historical truth blush". For them, his "documented service to the homeland mean he is owed the corresponding gratitude at the same time as being reasons for respect".

According to OKDiario, in recent hours, the manifesto has also been signed by the former Chief of Staff of the Army, Luis Alejandre Sintes; former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Eduardo González-Gallarza, and the former head of the Cuarto Militar del Rey (King's Military Chamber), Antonio González-Aller.

This comes just after the defence ministry opened an investigation into five of the signatories, all in the reserves, saying the others "have no professional link with the defence ministry". Margarita Robles' department underlined the "absolute commitment" of all members of the armed forces to the Constitution and its values.