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Spanish spies from the country's National Intelligence Centre (CNI) are reported to have watched over the departure of Juan Carlos I from Spain and to be taking part in the ongoing security operation which is protecting the controversy-mired former king, according to Spanish digital daily Vozpópuli. In fact, the intelligence service is reported to be "incredulous" about the management of the affair which culminated in the monarch's flight to the now-confirmed destination of the United Arab Emirates, and the blow to the image of Spain which this journey to exile represents. 

Juan Carlos I left Spain at the beginning of August "with deep sentiments but with great serenity" as a result of "certain past events" in his private life, as he communicated in a letter to his son, the current king FelipeVI. "Now, guided by the conviction that it will provide the best service to Spaniards, their institutions and to you as king, I inform you of my deeply-considered decision to move, at the moment, out of Spain," he said.

The king emeritus's destination, the United Arab Emirates, was only revealed this Monday in a statement from the royal house, after being kept secret by Spanish authorities for two weeks. Meanwhile Spain's interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, has also acknowledged that Spanish taxpayers are footing the bill for the security operation to protect the king emeritus. The cost of this to the Spanish public treasury has been estimated by digital newspaper La política online as 32,000 euros a month. "No one can forget that we are talking about the person was Spain's head of state, so his security obviously concerns the Spanish state," said minister Marlaska.

Juan Carlos, not protected from Swiss prosecution

Also in recent days, a legal expert from Switzerland has warned that the Spanish ex-monarch does not have full immunity in the Alpine country. University of Zurich law professor Frank Meyer told Swissinfo that, although the king emeritus is covered by royal inviolability in Spain, "Spanish law has no direct effect on Switzerland." "Juan Carlos I could benefit from a 'functional immunity' over the time when he was king, but that immunity is tied to his role as a public agent of the state and does not apply to actions as a private person," he added.

In Spain, the foreign affairs ministry remains formally disconnected from the decisions made by the king emeritus, a situation that the country's intelligence service describe as "negative". Sources within the foreign ministry informed Vozpópuli that the Dominican Republic was "in the diplomatic focus" of the Spanish state in the face of the possibility that Juan Carlos I might settle there, albeit temporarily. Since then, however, it has transpired that, for the moment at least, Juan Carlos has unpacked his bags in the Middle East.