Read in Catalan

The parliamentary leader of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), Josep Maria Jové, and the party's spokesperson in the European Parliament, MEP Diana Riba, have told a judge that they were spied on using Pegasus software, in Barcelona court number 20 this Friday. The lawyer for the two pro-independence politicians, Andreu van den Eynde, affirmed that despite "the Spanish justice system's fierce resistance" to investigate the matter, the court has begun to hear the arguments that they have long maintained, that Spain's National Intelligence Centre (CNI) spied on them, in the context of espionage against the Catalan independence movement which Citizen Lab's Catalangate investigation found had at least 65 victims. Specifically, Jové detailed to the judge Eva Molto that he has evidence that his phones were hacked on three occasions, between March 2019 and June 2020: in the first instance, during the trial of the independence process leaders, and later, when he, as a senior ERC figure, was negotiating with the Spanish government on different issues, such as the investiture of Pedro Sánchez as leader of a Spanish new government, along with measures to do with the pandemic, the budget; and with regard to Catalan politics, the formation of the pro-independence coalition government. Jové was also part of the dialogue table between the Spanish and Catalan governments.

For her part, member of the European Parliament Diana Riba explained that she realised that she was being spied on specifically on October 28th, 2019, when a collaborator based in Brussels picked up the phone and listened to part of the conversation they had just had. At that time conversations were taking place about the European Parliament seat that ERC president Oriol Junqueras had obtained, which he had to give up after being convicted of sedition. And she also suspects that she was spied on in the personal sphere, since her husband, former Catalan minister Raül Romeva, was also convicted by the Supreme Court on October 14th. Riba said that "the Spanish government must keep its word" and called on the Pedro Sánchez cabinet to lift the secrecy on the matter and allow the CNI to give explanations.

FOTO Raül Romeva, Foto: Carlos Baglietto
Former minister Raül Romeva accompanied Riba and Jové to the court. / Photo: Carlos Baglietto

Riba told the judge that, as vice-president of the European chamber's Pegasus investigation committee, she visited the NSO company in Israel and that they were informed that the Spanish state was one of its clients. Before entering the court this Friday, Jové and Riba received the support of ERC colleagues, who also demanded transparency from the Spanish government.

The CNI director, in court

Recently, the judge asked the Spanish government to approve the declassification of secret documents, in order to clarify whether it had approved the investigation of 47 known victims close to the independence  movement, having already admitted that it did so with regard to 18 people, including current Catalan leader Pere Aragonès, when he was vice president. This request from the judge was in response to the demand of the ERC politicians' lawyer, Andreu van den Eynde, in order to ensure that her questioning as a witness of the spy agency director, Esperanza Casteleiro, is fruitful and that she does not simply refuse to answer on grounds of confidentiality. So far the PSOE government has not responded. In addition, a person in charge of the NSO Group company has been called to appear as a defendant.

Aragonès's case, paralysed 

The ERC lawyer also denounced that the investigation into the espionage against president Pere Aragonès "has been paralysed for 10 months", referring to the legal obstacles to its investigation. Currently, the Barcelona Audience has to decide which court is competent to investigate Aragonès: either the ordinary level Barcelona court where the complaint was filed, or a chamber of the National Audience.

In addition, the Pegasus cases are spread over different courts in Barcelona, with those affected from the CUP and ERC parties and the Òmnium organization. The lawyer Andreu van den Eynde, who is legal representative in this case, also has his case as a victim of the espionage, along the MEP Jordi Solé, which is being heard in another Barcelona court, number 24.

The presentation of mobile phones

The specialist prosecutor for IT crimes, Roberto Valverde, reiterated in court that Jové and Riba must bring their mobile phones to court so that they can be examined by police experts. The two politicians have provided the court with two expert reports, as well as the one from Citizen Lab, which confirm the espionage that they suffered. In all courts where the cases are being heard, the prosecution maintains this demand.


In the main photo, lawyer Andreu van den Eynde and MEP Diana Riba. / Photo: Carlos Baglietto