Two inmates of Madrid's Estremera prison, collaborators with former Spanish police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, approached the lawyers of Catalan presidents Carles Puigdemont and Jordi Pujol with offers to sell alleged state secrets that were in the hands of alleged "dirty ops" mastermind Villarejo, according to the newspaper El País.
Specifically, the Spanish newspaper refers to Javier Ruiz and Alfonso Pazos, who contacted the lawyers of each of the presidents to offer them the assistance of Villarejo’s secret files linked to the cases opened against each of them; Pujol was quoted a price of eleven million euros and Puigdemont, five million, but according to the two inmates' statement to the police, as quoted by El País, neither Pujol nor Puigdemont accepted the offer, so in the end they never obtained access to the information.
The situation of Jordi Pujol, accused of corruption and pending trial for the case of the "legacy" of his father Florenci, and that of Carles Puigdemont, wanted by the Spanish judiciary for sedition and misuse of funds following the Catalan independence referendum on October 1st, 2017 and the ensuing proclamation of independence, made them sales targets for the two prisoners, who sought - unsuccessfully - to interest them in buying information from the alleged "state sewers" operations led by Villarejo.
Sale pitch given while on prison leave
In fact, according to the police statement, Pazos had contacted Gonzalo Boye, Puigdemont's lawyer, presenting a written offer to provide him with the files of Villarejo on the so-called Operation Catalonia, an illegal Spanish interior ministry scheme aimed at discrediting pro-independence politicians, in exchange for five million euros.
Apparently, Ruiz and Pazos took advantage of their prison leave between 2018 and 2020 to make sales offers for a range of confidential documentation to lawyers, politicians and journalists, says the Spanish daily, adding that Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors learned of these manoeuvres in June 2020 and obtained judicial approval for police monitoring of operations that Villarejo was directing from jail.
The Villarejo labyrinth
Villarejo's two collaborators, Alfonso Pazos Fernández and Javier Ruiz Cubero, are charged in one of the trials trials which has been separated from the so-called Tándem case - otherwise known as the Villarejo case. Former police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo was arrested in 2017 for this case, for which he is charged with criminal organization, bribery and money laundering.
However, since the investigation began, he has emerged as an apparent central figure in many "dirty ops" and illegal activities, often with clear political motives, carried out by the Spanish state. In particular, his extensive collection of taped interviews and conversations with many key Spanish public figures - has been crucial in bringing to light illegal political operations such as Operation Catalonia - a campaign to bring down pro-independence politicians - and Operation Kitchen - an illegal espionage mission allegedly ordered by senior PP leaders. Not to mention the corruption allegations focused on the Spanish royal family itself. Villarejo spent the last three years in pre-trial custody, but since March 3rd this year he has been free on bail.