Spanish political parties PSOE, the PP, Cs and Vox are all presenting amendments to the European Parliament's draft report on Pegasus espionage to remove references to the 65 Catalans with links to the independence movement who were spied on. Among the 1,281 amendments to the document that have been presented, there are those from the Spanish unionist parties, which seek to minimize references to Catalangate, to those who it targeted, as well as to the judicial processes initiated throughout the EU. Meanwhile, the Catalonia-based parties represented in the chamber, ERC and Junts, have proposed adding more details about the Spanish state's espionage against the independence movement. In the debate that took place this Thursday in the European chamber, the Catalan president-in-exile, Carles Puigdemont, made it clear that national security "must not be the alibi" that facilitates "the systemic and uncontrolled use" of spyware and reiterated that software like Pegasus "is not compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union".
Spanish unionism seeks to censor the Catalangate report
Through the amendments to the draft report, the four parties aim to downgrade or raise doubts about the espionage against the Catalan independence movement. More specifically, Ciudadanos (Cs) wants the text to question the research used by the University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab centre, asserting that "some academics" have detected "anomalies" in the methodology. The party also regards the term 'Catalangate' as "propaganda". In the case of the Socialists (PSOE), an amendment which it proposed adds the adjective "alleged" to the espionage against the Catalan movement and also details the measures which the Spanish governing party says have been taken since the scandal broke. In addition, the Socialists want to remove references to the fact that one of the "key" groups in the espionage consisted of pro-independence MEPs. On the contrary, they intend to insert more references to espionage against several members of the Spanish government, such as the prime minister himself, Pedro Sánchez. As well, the People's Party (PP) seeks to add to the text that the espionage was carried out "coinciding with the illegal referendum on independence that caused serious disturbances" and also to point to the relationship which they say exists between the movement and Russia. Far-right Vox also wants to specify that the three MEPs from the Junts party are "fugitives from justice" for trying to carry out a "coup d'état" in 2017.
Puigdemont speaks in the Pegasus report debate
MEP Carles Puigdemont took part in the debate this Thursday underlining the "danger" of Pegasus and the "lack of control" that exists today over its use. "The program can be used by states, but there is no evidence to show that it can be controlled, and this is the basis of the threat," he argued. Despite everything, he sees the report as "a ray of hope" for all those citizens "concerned about the health of the EU". Along simialr lines, the spokesperson for the Greens, Hannah Neumann, remarked that the use of espionage programs in the European Union is "out of control" and regretted the lack of cooperation on the part of several states in the investigation of the scandal. Given the current context, Neumann continued to defend the need for a moratorium on the use of tools like Pegasus until there is "clear" legislation.
President @KRLS al comitè de Pegasus de @Europarl_EN: "L'informe sobre Pegasus pot ser incòmode per certs estats, sí. Però, aquí no hi som per representar els estats i els seus interessos. Hi som per representar els ciutadans. En aquest sentit, l'informe és una esperança" pic.twitter.com/Dr2D6oekdP— Junts i Lliures per Europa (@JuntsEU) March 9, 2023
President Puigdemont tells Pegasus committee: "The report on Pegasus may be uncomfortable for certain states, yes. But we are not here to represent the states and their interests. We are here to represent the citizens. In this sense, the report is a hope"— Junts i Lliures per Europa
Pegasus committee invites Catalan MPs to a meeting in Madrid
Meanwhile, the Pegasus committee of the European Parliament has invited Catalan deputies to meet in Madrid, as part of its upcoming mission to Spain later this month to investigate espionage using the spyware in the Spanish state. In a letter sent last Friday, the Dutch Christian Democratic MEP Jeroen Lenaers offered the meeting to the acting speaker of Catalonia's Parliament, Alba Vergés: "I would be very grateful if you could meet our delegation in the office of the European Parliament in Madrid" - on March 21st. Specifically, the invitation is for representatives of the Catalan chamber's committee of investigation into the Catalangate espionage.
Ironically, on the same day the meeting proposal from Europe arrived, the Catalan parliamentary committee on the Pegasus espionage was snubbed by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, whom it had called to appear. Now it is once again attempting to call Sánchez to respond, along with other members of his executive: deputy PMs Nadia Calviño and Yolanda Díaz, as well as the defence minister, Margarita Robles, and the interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska. Ex-minister Carmen Calvo has also been cited, in addition to the chied public prosecutor, Álvaro García, Supreme Court judge Pablo Lucas Murillo, and the former delegate of the Spanish government in Catalonia, Teresa Cunillera.