Pegasus at City Hall

The news published yesterday exclusively by La Vanguardia that the National Intelligence Center investigated the negotiations for the formation of a government in Barcelona after the electoral victory of the ERC candidate, Ernest Maragall, in the municipal elections of 2019, represents not only a new chapter in the espionage to which the CNI subjected personalities related to the procés, but rather introduces a new variable that is as surprising as it is worrying.

Pegasus at City Hall

The news published yesterday exclusively by La Vanguardia that the National Intelligence Center investigated the negotiations for the formation of a government in Barcelona after the electoral victory of the ERC candidate, Ernest Maragall, in the municipal elections of 2019, represents not only a new chapter in the espionage to which the CNI subjected personalities related to the procés, but rather introduces a new variable that is as surprising as it is worrying.

One person's phone was intercepted by the Spanish intelligence services, with prior judicial authorization, for having a mediation role and being at the core of the negotiations that were taking place for the formation of a municipal government in the Catalan capital between Barcelona en Comú, the party of Ada Colau, and ERC, which was the most voted list. All this in the event that this training could be done with the mayor's office. Finally, and as is known, Colau was re-elected thanks to the votes of the PSC and the abstention of two councilors from the formation then led by Manuel Valls.

All the information on the case was documented by the former director of the CNI, Paz Esteban, during her appearance before the Official Secrets Commission of Congress, on the 5th. The Spanish espionage wanted to obtain information on the actions and objectives of the Catalan independence movement and that interest was endorsed by the judge of the Supreme Court who must authorize their interventions.

At this point, it is at least difficult to understand that the CNI places the focus of its actions in a strictly political framework such as the negotiation between parties, after an electoral process, to explore possible agreements, pacts or majorities. That is precisely the ABC of politics: negotiating to try to reach an agreement with your opponent. The parties involved are formations that meet all legal requirements and that, in the exercise of their powers and responsibilities, fulfilled precisely the role for which they had been voted.

It is difficult to find justifications by which a magistrate can endorse espionage, through the intervention of communications, to representatives of democratic parties who meet to seek government majorities. This intrusion into the sphere of politics is exceptional and can hardly be framed in the need to seek information by any means on the activities of the leaders or the independence movement. In the case that concerns us we are not at this stage, which would also be debatable, but it is the violation of the rights of representatives of democratic parties in the exercise of their work.

For this reason, this espionage by the CNI urgently demands maximum transparency and all possible clarifications in response to actions that are difficult to assume and understand. Someone must explain why it was authorized to spy on a negotiation to form a municipal majority in Barcelona.

But just as these actions are not tolerable, neither are some of the responses they have caused. Ernest Maragall spoke yesterday of "intervened elections", affirmed that it was a State operation, that "to maintain power anything goes, even the help of the CNI", and that Colau was aware of everything. Accusations that have made the commons come out in a storm to demand a rectification, speaking of "very serious slander."

So out of place do the suspicions that encouraged the puncture of the CNI seem as the accusations launched yesterday without evidence by Maragall. All this only contributes to increasing the discredit of politics and institutions. That is why it is so important and urgent that the facts and the circumstances in which they occurred be clarified.


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