The Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, has given his reaction to the draft report publication by the committee investigating Pegasus software espionage in countries across Europe, in which the Spanish government is directly identified as being responsible for spying on pro-independence leaders in the context of CatalanGate. The president did not appear in the first list of espionage victims, but many people in his closest circles did, and a few days ago he reported to this same committee that there was more and more evidence that his mobile phone had also been spied on. Now, after the release of the provisional findings by the committee rapporteur Sophie in 't Veld, a liberal MEP, the president gave a forceful response. "Massive, uncontrolled and illegal espionage is very serious, but it is even more so if it is carried out by a state and protected by the European Union. It is a direct threat to democracy. There are no half measures. Spain spies and violates fundamental rights. This shows that we have to confront it," he wrote on social media.
Carles Puigdemont's message is published as a response to the video shared by the European Parliament on Twitter in which In 't Veld explains in a press conference that "the abuse of spyware systems in EU member states is a grave threat to democracy on the entire continent just at the time when we need democracy more than ever." The report is devastating for Spain, as Puigdemont's lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, has also underlined in a tweet. "We already knew it, but now it has been proven that while we were filing lawsuits in Europe, we were being spied on by one of the parties to the litigation," he wrote on social media. The "party" that Boye speaks of is the Spanish government and its authorities, who, as the European parliamentary committee says, are implicated by multiple indicators as being responsible for the massive spying on the Catalan independence movement.
L’espionatge massiu, incontrolat i il·legal és molt greu, però encara ho és més si ho fa un Estat i ho empara la Unió Europea. És una amenaça directa a la democràcia. No hi valen mitges tintes.— krls.eth / Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) November 8, 2022
Espanya espia i vulnera drets fonamentals. Això demostra que ens hi hem de confrontar. https://t.co/s6L8Kp51pm
What does the Pegasus report say?
Specifically, the document presented today by the PEGA investigating committee concludes that "on the basis of a series of indicators it is generally assumed that the surveillance of the Catalan targets was conducted by the Spanish authorities, mainly in connection with the 1st October 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia, and ensuing events." Going further, the committee also denounces that the Spanish government is one of those that had provided them with the least information to investigate their case, justifying this failure to cooperate on national security grounds that have not convinced the investigators, and that Spain was also probably the first country to buy the services of the company NSO, owner of Pegasus. Of the 159 pages of the report, almost half are dedicated to five countries - Spain, Poland, Hungary, Greece and Cyprus - and the 12 pages which describe the Spanish situation mostly deal with the Catalangate cases, but also explain what is known about Spain's acquisition of the spyware and the Pegasus infection in the phones of prime minister Pedro Sánchez and two cabinet ministers, which it attributes to Morocco.
Puigdemont's complaint about the inaction of the European Union
Just a few weeks ago, when six months had passed since the release of the Catalangate report on Pegasus espionage, Carles Puigdemont denounced the inaction of the European Union on the issue in a very cutting article published in the magazine The Parliament, complaining that there were still too many questions unanswered about this attack on rights to privacy through the hacking and surveillance of mobile phones. He focused especially on the figure of the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen: "The Commission has remained too silent. While assertive when Pegasus was affecting only Poland, Hungary or Greece, the suspicion that Spain has been spying on Catalan citizens who are pro-independence has been met with indifference," the exiled president and MEP protested. Now, however, the report has directly pointed a finger at Pedro Sánchez's Spanish government, while also criticising the lack of information it has supplied to the EU committee. The report also notes that the legal complaints about the use of Pegasus presented in Madrid by the Spanish ministers and Sánchez himself are progressing very quickly, unlike those of the Catalan pro-independence leaders in Barcelona.