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A full plenary session of the European Parliament is to discuss the issue of espionage carried out by states, against MEPs among others, using Pegasus spyware. This was decided by the parliamentary groups on Thursday, according to sources at the European chamber. The proposal came from the Greens/EFA group, of which Diana Riba and Jordi Solé of Catalonia's ERC are members - and both MEPs have been spied on using the Pegasus software, according to the revelations of the Canadian research centre Citizen Lab. In fact, all five of the European representatives from Catalonia who are in favour of independence were affected by the massive spying: out of the three Junts MEPs, Toni Comín had his own mobile hacked, Carles Puigdemont was monitored indirectly by the hacking of at least 9 people close to him professionally or personally and, in the case of Clara Ponsatí, similar "relational spying" even focused on one of her assistants within the European Parliament itself. The debate 'The use of Pegasus by EU Member States against individuals, including MEPs and the violation of fundamental rights' will be held next Wednesday 4th May in Strasbourg from 3pm. Following the revelations of the Citizen Lab in their CatalanGate report, the European Parliament already announced last week that it would make a service available so that MEPs could check if the Pegasus spyware system had been installed on their mobile phones. However, the president of the chamber, Roberta Metsola, has not commented specifically on the espionage against the pro-independence Catalan MEPs.

Puigdemont 2 CitizenLab
The people close to Catalan MEP Carles Puigdemont, who, according to CitizenLab, had their electronic devices targeted or hacked using Pegasus spyware / Citizen Lab 

Special committee

With the CatalanGate report as a backdrop, the special committee to investigate Pegasus and other espionage programs was also launched in the European Parliament last week. Following earlier revelations about the alleged use of Pegasus surveillance software in Hungary, Poland and Greece, the European Parliament decided in March to set up this new organ to determine whether its use has violated European Union law and fundamental rights. The committee plans to present a final report within a year.

Democratic Tsunami, investigated

In the latest of a string of Spanish media stories based on leaks from Spanish intelligence sources on the CatalanGate affair, the digital daily El Confidencial published this Thursday that the CNI intelligence agency​ was authorised by the Pedro Sánchez government to hack the mobile phones of 18 members of the Democratic Tsunami, the protest platform that led the late 2019 mobilizations against the sentencing of the Catalan independence leaders. According to the newspaper, among those spied upon at the behest of the Spanish executive is the very IT engineer who led the investigation into the espionage against independence, Elias Campo. According to this media, which cites sources close to the operation, the spying on the protest leaders in 2019 had the mandatory authorization of the Supreme Court and the results were sent to the Spanish government.

This report comes the day after the Spanish minister of defence, Margarita Robles, justified the espionage against pro-independence leaders. The minister, responsible for the Spanish intelligence services, accused the pro-independence parties of acting "hypocritically" over CatalanGate. "It works very well for them at the moment to play the victim," ​​Robles said at the question session in Congress. "What does a state have to do when someone violates the Constitution, declares independence, blocks off public roads or is having relations with political leaders in a country that is invading Ukraine?" said Robles in response to a question from the CUP, criticizing that she "has not heard them saying anything" when "organisms such as the [public employment service] SEPE or ministers' telephones are hacked". The head of defence argued that "she has never seen them defending the basic principles of the rule of law."

VIDEO Below: Spanish minister of defence, Margarita Robles: "What does a state have to do when someone declares independence?" (subtitled in English)