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A small breakthrough. The judge of Barcelona investigative court number 20 has agreed to formally ask the Spanish cabinet to declassify secret information related to the deployment of Pegasus software against the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) MP in the Catalan chamber, Josep Maria Jové, and the party's spokesperson in the European Parliament, Diana Riba, who were spied on along with 65 other people, according to the report on the Catalangate investigation. Once the declassification is carried out, assuming it is approved, the judge will summon the director of Spain's CNI intelligence centre, Esperanza Casteleiro, to testify as a witness, as ERC reported on Tuesday. The judge, Maria Eva Moltó, has thus accepted the request made by the ERC politicians' lawyer, Andreu Van den Eynde, since without that step, the spy chief Casteleiro could, when summoned to court, use the secrecy of the documentation to justify a refusal to clarify anything about the espionage against Jové and Riba.

In the court decision, dated March 24th, the judge complied with the resolution of the Barcelona Audience court, accepting the claims of the ERC lawyer, that if his complaint was accepted, investigation would be required including the clarification of whether the CNI spied on the pro-independence Catalan politicians. In addition, the judge notified the accused company OSY Technologies, part of the NSO group and owner of Pegasus spyware, to appear as a party under investigation. The judge also agreed to summon Jové and Riba to testify as witnesses, although she has not yet set the date, waiting for them to provide the days they could do so. And she will also call Oriol Cases Vilà, who will testify as a witness from Brussels.

"Increases the pressure" on the Spanish government

In a statement, ERC expresses that satisfaction with this judicial resolution and affirms that this "increases the pressure on the Spanish government to give explanations about Catalangate". In this regard, the Republicans note that representatives of the Spanish executive have reiterated their "total willingness" to collaborate with justice in the declassification of documents.

For his part, Van den Eynde said, in the same statement, that this resolution points "in the right direction" and highlighted the "lack of recent precedents" in the declassification of documents. "For now, we have achieved our goals: to impute one of the branches of NSO and for a judge to request the lifting of official secrecy", said the lawyer, adding: "We are putting the spotlight on the Spanish state and its structures, and above all, we are closer to knowing the truth".

Investigation of mobile phones, to the Mossos

With regard to the IT expert evidence in the case, the judge has commissioned the IT crimes unit of the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, to investigate, and will ask the IT unit if the cellphones of Jové and Riba are needed or if the forensic image taken in presence of a notary, as provided by Riba and Jové, is sufficient. The expert examination will also have to be carried out, said the judge, in the presence of the defendants' own experts. And furthermore she is to ask the Catalan High Court if it has one of Jové's phones, which was examined for the 1st October case, and which is connected to this Pegasus case.