The CatalanGate cyberespionage case has arrived in Brussels, where a joint press conference by Catalan independence movement representatives was held this morning in the face of this new attack. But as well, the European Commission has stated that the investigation of these issues is the responsibility of each EU member state, and has therefore called on Spain to analyze the facts of the scandal that has affected at least 65 Catalan pro-independence leaders and other individuals associated with the movement. A spokesman for the Commission, Johannes Bahrke, made it clear that "any attempt by government intelligence services to illegally access citizens' data is unacceptable. States have the power to safeguard national security and must ensure that their security services fully respect human rights, including freedom of the press and free speech. Each member state must investigate this and we expect that the national authorities will examine it in order to restore confidence." In addition, sources from this body told Spanish newspaper eldiario.es that the European Commission is in contact with all member states, although it insists that "the investigation of these issues is the responsibility of each country", and point out that no they have "no role in investigating the alleged illegal use of spyware," as is the case with the Pegasus program.
European parliamentary committee
Less than 24 hours after the CatalanGate scandal came to light, a committee has been set up in the European Parliament to investigate Pegasus and other spyware programs. Just the day after The New Yorker and the Citizen Lab research centre announced that at least 65 pro-independence Catalan politicians and members of civil society had been the victims of espionage using this software, the new European Parliament committee held its first meeting, at which a president and vice-presidents were to be chosen. In fact, members of the committee include MEPs who have been victims of the software, such as ERC representative Diana Riba, who is to be nominated by the Greens/EFA group to hold one of the vice-presidencies. The president of the exile and MEP of Junts, Carles Puigdemont, also participates in the committee. Although Puigdemont does not appear in the first committee list, many people from his circles are there.
The first meeting of the European Parliamentary committee, being set up this Tuesday, was to take place this afternoon, and after selecting the MEPs to be committee office holders, representatives of Forbidden Stories, the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International are due to appear to explain their latest cyberespionage investigations. The plan is to launch an investigation that is to culminate in a year with a report showing whether the fundamental rights of those affected and the legislation of the European Union have been violated.
Spanish government: "Matter of national security"
Meanwhile, after the Spanish interior ministry denied any involvement in this espionage case - claiming it had no relationship with the software company NSO - today the spokeswoman for the Pedro Sánchez executive, Isabel Rodríguez, affirmed that "the Spanish government has nothing to hide, absolutely nothing". The Socialist minister defended that her government will cooperate "as much as possible with justice in the investigation of these facts if the courts require it. Spain is a democratic state and under rule of law. We will not accept that the democratic quality of our country should be placed in question."
However, Isabel Rodríguez did not answer whether the intelligence services, the CNI, had used the Pegasus software. The CNI is not part of the interior ministry - which gave its own denial this morning - but rather comes under the auspices of defence. The minister spokesperson justified her refusal to comment on the grounds that it was a matter of "national security" and that it is therefore "protected by law".