A 'pincer action' by the governing PSOE with the three parties of the Spanish right, the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox, has once again sent an a proposed investigation into the wastepaper basket at the Congress of Deputies. This Tuesday, the board of party spokespeople vetoed a new commission of inquiry, in this case the one registered by Unidas Podemos and the entire bloc of pro-independence and pro-sovereignty parties to investigate Catalangate, the mass espionage scandal against politicians, social leaders, lawyers and Catalan and Basque journalists. All that was achieved, by a majority decision of party spokespeople, was to oblige prime minister Pedro Sánchez to appear before the plenary of Congress to give an explanation of the Pegasus spyware case, at the request of the same parties as had requested the inquiry. A date is yet to be determined.
But there will be no specific commission. Not even the espionage of PM Sánchez and minister Margarita Robles, revealed yesterday by the Moncloa government palace, moved the Socialists to allow it. They maintain that the forum for it to be resolved is the official secrets committee, where the director of the CNI intelligence agency, Paz Esteban, is to appear, but whose proceedings cannot be made public. Any violation of its confidentiality is punishable by law.
The request for a commission was registered almost two weeks ago, and was accepted for consideration last week by the Bureau, but today it has been overturned by the board of party spokespeople in the lower house. The text was signed by the spokespeople of Unidas Podemos and the Comuns, ERC, Junts per Catalunya, PDeCAT, CUP, PNB, EH Bildu, BNG, Más País and Compromís. And they demanded that "the espionage and intrusion into privacy through the Pegasus and Candiru malware of political leaders, activists, lawyers, institutions and their families be investigated."
This Tuesday, in an interview with the radio station SER, Spanish minister Félix Bolaños closed the door on a commission of inquiry once again, despite the fact that the scandal now affects members of the cabinet. He argued that people who had information could not talk about it by law and "only those who do not know would talk about it." Thus, he rejected the request by the pro-independence parties and their allies. He also denied that the information released yesterday on the hacking of Sánchez and Robles was "a smokescreen". The Socialists are entrusting the principle of checks and balances to the official secrets committee, which "is the body that has the competencies to be informed of this matter."
The pro-independence parties are not moving from their position either: a commission of inquiry is needed, just like the one avoided today by the PSOE. ERC spokesperson Gabriel Rufián used the occasion of the veto to send a warning to Pedro Sánchez's government: "They are not aware of the consequences of this vote. Anyone who thinks this can be covered up and the legislature will not be destroyed, is not assessing the full magnitude of what lies ahead." In the same way, Míriam Nogueras, of Junts, chastised the Socialists: "The fact that the PSOE does not want a commission of inquiry confirms that the PSOE is not interested in knowing the truth. We can only think that it has something to hide." .
Committee suddenly unblocked
After failing to meet for two years due to a dispute over its composition, the Congress rapidly set up the official secrets committee last Thursday. It did so by reducing the reinforced (60%) majority to a 50% majority in the requirements for the election of members, thus being able to bypass the veto of the right and far right to the presence of pro-independence representatives. Paz Esteban, director of the CNI intelligence centre, may appear to give explanations before the newly-convened committee this week, although the details are not yet announced. However, the body meets behind closed doors and its contents cannot be leaked publicly, under Spain's official secrets act. The pro-independence parties are extremely skeptical of the chances of shedding any light on the mass political espionage scandal against the independence movement - a scandal which has now acquired the adjunct of yesterday's claim by the Spanish government that its members, too, have been snooped on.