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How many people were left in Catalonia who did not appear as possible targets for Mariano Rajoy's government's battle against the independence process? Anyone close to any circles that were considered pro-independence was a candidate for fraudulent investigation and harassment by those responsible for Operation Catalonia. But they weren't the only ones. This is clear from the documentation and audios that has had access to regarding the persecution of the independence movement, which also includes information on well-known Catalan personalities who are very unlikely to have inclinations towards sovereignism. Even the tug-of-war between Spain's abdicated king, Juan Carlos I, and his son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, allegedly "caught" in a relationship with a prostitute in Barcelona, has a place in the story prepared by the police.

This is the second article in our series investigating the Operation Catalonia para-police campaign against the independence movement based on a trove of new documents that have emerged. The documentation to which has had access, dated between 2012 and 2016, includes, among other items, memos with "confidential information" on Activities in Catalonia (AEC), as well as, under the National Police's Deputy Operational Directorate, a list of investigations carried out by the GATI (Information Technology Support Groups) and a list from the Internal Affairs Unit with proposals for investigation based on "information received". In this operation, the net was cast wide: trails were followed in all directions, in the search for information that could be used against pro-independence leaders, and which often ended up feeding fake reports that were leaked to certain media. 


The former king and Urdangarin

A police memorandum dated September 7th, 2016 on the actions carried out by someone identified in the reports as M [referring to former police inspector Antonio Giménez Raso], explains that after the La Camarga affair (when a restaurant meal between two protagonists was bugged, as told in our first Operation Catalonia Papers article), the private detective who had carried out the recording, Francisco Marco, had gone to work for "JP (father)", in reference to former Catalan president Jordi Pujol, with the aim of demonstrating a conspiracy against him by the Spanish interior ministry and the entire leadership of the People's Party (PP). At this point, it explains that Marco, whom it identifies as FM, boasts that his mother, “Marita” [founder of detective agency Método 3], “controls three or four apartments of high-end prostitutes in Barcelona and that one of them, known as Mireia, maintains intimate relations with I. Urdangarin". 

NOTA Urdangarin
Police informative memo that speaks of Urdangarin and his then father-in-law, king Juan Carlos I.


Although the story does not have too much to do with the subject of these investigations, the text expands on its explanation of this point. According to police officer M, the detective Marco boasts - in an "apparent delirium" - about the level of confidence he claims to have with JP [Jordi Pujol], that he maintains "regular conversations with SM (in Zarzuela)", that is, SM stands for Su Majestad and refers to Spain's king emeritus, whom he helped with his Swiss accounts thanks to the complicity of Arturo Fasana, Swiss financial manager to the ultra-rich. According to this informant, Juan Carlos I "allegedly asked him to help send two envoys to Barcelona, so that they could prove the relationship between Mireia and her son-in-law and thus force his separation from his daughter, the Infanta Cristina".

In fact, the former king appears on several occasions in the police report, where he is described as an "umbrella" of the Pujol clan, despite admitting, in a note from December 2012, that "the Crown is not passing through its best moments since the Botswana problem", in reference to Juan Carlos's hunting safari trip with his lover Corinna on which the monarch broke his hip.


Then there is the document drafted by the interior ministry, and specifically by the police Internal Affairs Unit, setting out "possible lines of investigation". Among others, Operation Catalonia contemplated opening investigations for possible irregularities focused on real estate businessman Felipe Massó, Carles Vilarrubí and his wife Sol Daurella, president of Cobega, and businessman Carlos Sumarroca. Also on this list is the Catalonia senior prosecutor Martín Rodríguez Sol, who had to resign in 2013 after affirming in an interview that he saw it as legitimate that the Catalans wanted to be consulted about their political future. Specifically, Internal Affairs proposed investigating Rodríguez Sol's links with the Catalanist conservative party Unió and "the [monetary] commissions handled by the lawyers of the aforementioned party". It is not the only time when misgivings were directed towards the public prosecutor's office: a note from December 2012 asserted that, according to the National Intelligence Centre (CNI), "some of the significant members of the judicial field today maintain clear preferences towards [Catalonia's] right to decide".

The former president of Barça Sandro Rosell is one of the names that recurr in the 'Patriotic Police' memoranda. In December 2012, the fact that he was irrelevant for the Operation Catalonia investigation was pointed out, but he reappeared in a 2015 report, in which the same criterion was reiterated. In this memo, and after the arrest of Rosell for a matter linked to FC Barcelona, of which he was eventually acquitted, the text admits that there had been "confusion" between the spies of the CNI and the National Police over this issue, which led to the police investigators being withdrawn from this line. The text points out that the information they received about Rosell was "pure speculation" and was "motivated by spite towards a trusted team member of the former FCB president, who believed that his wife had been unfaithful with [Rosell], and thanks to the IT skills of the aforementioned informant, he created the news and hoaxes, then distributed them himself".


Often the objective of specific actions in Operation Catalonia went beyond using the information to feed reports attempting to discredit pro-independence circles. Applying pressure, or even actual extortion, were also part of the strategy. A memo from late 2012 notes the compromised information collected against the owner and publisher of La Vanguardia, Javier Godó, to force him to "redirect" the newspaper's editorial line. Judges are not left out of this strategy. In a recording from 2014, Villarejo talks about control de togas - literally, "control of judges' robes", which he claims was carried out by the CNI, and explains how he collected information about judges and prosecutors with which to put pressure on them. Specifically, he refers to anti-corruption prosecutor José Grinda following accusations against him for child abuse - Eugenio [Pino, deputy operations director of the National Police] authorized me. I'm going to get this pedophilia thing out of this guy," asserts Villarejo. In another recording, the police commissioner explains his interest in getting information about the Pujol family's defence attorney, Cristobal Martell. "JR [Javier de la Rosa] has a lot of information, because he was his lawyer. He knows his weak points," he says. In this context, the journalists who help spread the version of Villarejo's agents are also a focus of the commissioner's reports.

In the audios, of different conversations between Villarejo and Francisco Martínez, the interior minister Jorge Fernández Díaz's number two, the references to the financial compensation with which the informers are fed are also addressed. Among them, the businessman Javier de la Rosa - "he's always asking for pasta", Villarejo says in a recording - or the ex-girlfriend of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, Victòria Álvarez - "she feels cheated. They told her they would give her 50,000 and they haven't given her anything. Need to assess whether they can give her three by three, five by five... and thus keep her entertained for a year, in addition to what she receives", warns the commissioner, who considers that this strategy is better "instead of threatening her so much".

Corruption in the Sagrada Familia

In the middle of all this, the Sagrada Família comes up on a list of possible lines of investigation, dated November 5th, 2015, where there is talk of a "possible corruption plot" related to the world-famous expiatory temple designed by Antoni Gaudí.

Former Catalan president Artur Mas is one of the most mentioned in the reports, and not only him, also his wife Helena Rakosnik and other members of the Rakosnik family, in addition to their daughter, Patrícia, to whom they attribute an account in Liechtenstein containing almost two million euros. None of the complaints that were mooted against Mas were ever even formalized. Nor against the former mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias, of whom they sought to attribute an account in Switzerland that a rogatory inquiry managed to prove was false. The reports also include the brother of the then-mayor, "Juan María Trias y Vidal de Llobatera", whom they allege had an account in Switzerland and two in Andorra, but these claims were not specified any further in any case.


The investigations were not limited to trying to attribute crimes of corruption to those responsible for the independence process. There is even a murder case. Specifically, that of businessman John Rosillo, who died in 2007 in Panama where he had fled from Spanish justice, with whom he had pending cases. A report entry notes, in January 2016, the receipt of a Toshiba brand pendrive with audio on it, which was made available to the National Audience at the time, aserting that "the intellectual author" of Rosillo's murder was Joan Piqué Vidal, who was ex-president Pujol's lawyer. "The aim of this crime was to stop the declaration that he was presumably going to make in Spain", argues the text, referring to the desire that Rosillo had expressed to return to the Spanish state if he had a guarantee that he would not go to prison.

Islamic terrorism also rears its head in the reports. An informative note on EuroPraxis, a consultancy founded by one of the Pujol sons, Josep Pujol Ferrusola, notes his association with the Moroccan Ridoume Elourma, arrested in June 2005 for alleged links with Islamic terrorism. Elourme worked as a watchman at a house belonging to Josep Pujol in La Tour de Querol and when he was arrested in Puigcerdà he was traveling in an all-terrain vehicle owned by the family.


Carles Puigdemont's jump to the front line of politics in January 2016 quickly made him a focal point for the interior ministry operation. An investigation noted on March 18th, 2016 focused on an art collection that was acquired by Girona City Council when Puigdemont was mayor, at a cost of 3.7 million euros which, according to this memo, was charged "to the water bill". "The importance is that the then mayor of Girona is the current president of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont i Casamajor," concludes the annotation. In 2020, the Supreme Court dismissed this case.

Nor do the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) escape scrutiny. In May 2015, among the GATI investigations, an alleged "irregular ERC financing system" was identified through a former Catalan High Court judge and a "lobbyist" office in Passeig de Gràcia that had as partners Xavier Vendrell and Agustí Benedito.

The subjects proposed for investigation cover all imaginable areas. A memo from 2013 talks about data provided by an ERC member of Galician origin "who is not in favour of independence" about alleged urban irregularities at the residence of Oriol Junqueras in Sant Vicenç dels Horts. Specifically, it mentions that his house had encroached on public land in one of the streets. According to the text, this information had also reached the Ciudadanos party who tried to confirm it in order to ask a question in Parliament, "which would damage the public image of the aforementioned leader".

Anti-fraud office and the private investigators

The former head of the Catalonia Antifraud Office, Daniel de Alfonso, whose involvement with Operation Catalonia was revealed through a conversation with the interior minister Jorge Fernández Díaz in which he boasted of his influence on the prosecutor's office, appears as one of the sources of information for Villarejo's agents. The reports say that De Alfonso explained that he had a budget of five and a half million euros per year to hire investigators. In particular, the investigative company Interligare and the detective agency Intelligence Bureau are cited. The report also shows, as they learned through Daniel De Alfonso's number two, Carlos Quílez, the good relations that the head of the Antifraud Office maintained with the Spain's senior judiciary, speaking of “good and frequent” relations with key senior judges.

Investigating the Mossos

Police chief Josep Lluís Trapero, head of the Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra police, often identified as TRIPI in the documents, also appears repeatedly in these reports. He is cited in several different senses. Even on February 16th, 2016, he is noted in a list of investigations: "The Jorodovich [sic] family is protected by the current head of the Mossos d'Esquadra Mr Trapero in his drug trafficking issues".

In fact, the text makes clear the surveillance carried out across the police forces, with special attention to CESICAT, which is described as the "Catalan CNI". An entry from January 2016 warns that Manel Castellano Pino, a sub-inspector attached to the UCRO (Central Operative Resources Unit) of the Mossos "is trying to approach the SPC (Police Unions of Catalonia) due to the numerous news stories that are appearing about the alleged irregularities that the aforementioned Unit has been exercising against several leaders of so-called sovereignist political parties, since it seems that they travel to Madrid and contact workers/managers of mobile phone operators to obtain information or carry out checks /illegal eavesdropping”. "It coincides with an investigation by [former controversial police unit] BARC, so the data is given to them", concludes the memo.

The memos are fuelled by information that is not only false, but even at times almost impossible, like the claim that Mas and the Pujols had invested their money in paintings bought in Switzerland that they had then loaned out to different art museums in Andorra, a country that is not precisely characterized by its art galleries. But there are also inaccuracies, dates that don't fit and misspelled names, the result of a job that, despite achieving its goals, is clearly clumsy.

🔍 All of's reports (in Catalan) on the Operation Catalonia Papers investigation