Following attempts by a Spanish judge, Joaquín Aguirre, to renew the search for a Russian connection in the so-called Volhov investigation of alleged illegal financing of the Catalan independence process, the Catalan MEP and president in exile Carles Puigdemont has responded publicly. Through a note from his office, he has asserted that the contents of a report made by the Civil Guard - some of which were leaked to the media - are "falsehoods and intoxication". And he categorizes this judicial offensive as part of the "dirty war of the Spanish state" against the Catalan independence movement.
The judge in the Volhov case is seeking to open an investigation into the links between the head of Puigdemont's office, Josep Lluís Alay, and a Russian businessman, a judicial initiative which public prosecutors moved to counter in July, calling for this part of the investigation to be thrown out on the basis of insufficient evidence and as it "violates the most basic rights and freedoms." However, the judge's wish to investigate this route has been leaked to different media which have been provided with the report of the Civil Guard in this regard.
"Falsehoods and intoxication"
The statement published by Puigdemont's office states that the information "is based on a report from the Civil Guard which is full of falsehoods, inconsistencies and intoxications". "The sole aim of the report is to criminalize and discredit the Catalan independence independence before the international community by presenting it as a destabilizing element," he warns.
According to the statement, these are decontextualized leaks, as they only bring together messages related to Russia when there are many other messages about other countries that are “intentionally omitted”, which represent a "manipulation that clearly harms the right to truthful and rigorous information”.
From the Puigdemont office, these revelations are seen as an instrument in the on-going dirty war by the Spanish state against Catalan pro-independence forces.
The note emphasizes that all the international activities of the Puigdemont office, its manager and its legal team, headed by Gonzalo Boye, “are perfectly legal and aim to contribute to the democratic resolution of the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain”.
As a consequence, the MEP in exile announces that he will study the possibility of taking legal action in Spain and other countries if necessary, given the possibility that a crime of disclosure of official secrets has been committed, as the information has reached some media before the lifting of confidentiality on the judicial summary of the investigation.