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After the statements made by former commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, accusing the Spanish National Intelligence Centre (CNI) of being behind the terror attacks of August 17th, 2017, the Catalan pro-independence movement has demanded explanations. It has done so from Barcelona and also from Madrid, where the parliamentary groups of ERC and Junts per Catalunya have registered several requests for hearings, including those of Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez and former director of Spanish intelligence, Félix Sanz Roldán. Villarejo has assured that the CNI turned a blind eye to the activities of the Ripoll imam in order to give Catalonia "a scare" a few days before autumn of 2017.

On the one hand, the spokesperson of Esquerra Republicana in the Congress of Deputies, Gabriel Rufián, submitted three requests for hearings in the Congress of Deputies: those of prime minister Pedro Sánchez, minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and former director of the CNI, Félix Sanz Roldán. In a tweet, Rufián asked the Spanish government for "immediate" explanations on Villarejo's statements. The ERC spokesperson also said that they will once again push for the commissions of enquiry into the 17-A attacks, which were categorically and obstinately vetoed. "The Spanish government cannot remain silent", he claimed.

The same steps have been taken by Junts per Catalunya. Its spokesperson in Congress, Míriam Nogueras, registered three requests for hearings: Pedro Sánchez, Fernando Grande-Marlaska and the minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, responsible for the CNI. They want them to clarify the level of "knowledge of the Spanish government" about what Villarejo declared in court. At the same time, its spokesperson in the Senate, Josep Lluís Cleries, has registered two requests for a hearing in order to "explain the government's position in the face of serious statements". He also requested the presence of Marlaska and the current director of the CNI, Paz Esteban.

Villarejo's statement

José Manuel Villarejo made this statement in the framework of the trial for the Tándem case. With this accusation, Villarejo pointed directly to the former director of the National Intelligence Centre in 2017, Félix Sanz Roldán. The specific sentence he uttered was the following: "The CNI miscalculated the consequences of giving Catalonia a little scare". It should be recalled that Alfonso Guevara, presiding judge of the court that tried the August 17th attacks at Spain’s National Audience court, prevented Villarejo from testifying at the trial.

The former commissioner's statement adds to what he had already declared a year ago, when he indicated he had tried to infiltrate a Moroccan source who warned of the risk of an attack on Barcelona. Villarejo detailed that the CNI rejected this offer because they found the source unreliable, and explained that he had previously worked for them. On the other hand, the former commissioner denounced that the CNI endangered its sources by leaking an image of a secret anti-terrorist operation in Melilla.

Cuevillas recalls he was prevented from investigating the CNI

One of the first to react to Villarejo's statement was Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, lawyer and MP for Junts. He stressed that an investigation of the alleged relationship between the CNI and the 17-A attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils was prevented. With what transpired today, the lawyer considers that the possible connections between the National Intelligence Centre and the imam of Ripoll must continue to be investigated. Via Twitter, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas attached the website of 17-A: ‘Queremos saber la verdad’ [We want to know the truth], a portal that asks for donations I order to "be present at the trial and ask for explanations".