It is "a shame", a "prospective investigation", for "ideological reasons", which confirms the "extreme seriousness of the scandal" that shakes Catalan and Spanish political news these days. It is the analysis that some of the protagonists extract from the information published this Saturday by La Vanguardia, detailing the identity of the 18 people spied on with judicial authorization that the former director of the CNI Paz Esteban recognized last week in the Official Secrets Commission of the Congress of the deputies.
They are all those who are on the list of the recently dismissed head of Spanish intelligence, although they are not all those who the independence movement claims have been spied on at some point, which according to the report by the Citizen Lab cyber espionage laboratory, reaches 65 people . But the list includes many of the main independence leaders, lawyers and activists who have played a relevant role in the procés in 2019 and 2020, after the Supreme Court sentence for sedition.
Those affected reaffirm the idea that the State agreed on the need to carry out an "illegal", "prospective" and "illegitimate practice", which in their opinion goes against a good list of fundamental rights, with such of "fighting against a legitimate and democratic movement" such as the independence movement. And given the fact that there was a Supreme Court judge who gave authorization to the CNI to carry out this espionage, they maintain that "some judges have also crossed some red lines" because the judicial authorizations "must be proportional", while an investigation of this nature, “without proof, it is absolutely illegal”.
President Puigdemont pointed out on social networks that this information confirms the extreme seriousness of the scandal because "in no democracy are negotiations between political formations, legal defense strategies, or what is planned for the electoral campaign or for the pacts spy on." later politicians.
The arguments that the CNI gives before the Supreme Court in order for telephone espionage to be authorized, such as national prestige, the mobilization capacity of movements such as Tsunami Democràtic or the CDR, or possible contacts with Puigdemont deeply irritate those affected.
In conversation with La Vanguardia, some of those present on the list, such as the president of the PDECat, David Bonvehí and the deputy general secretary of the party and mayor of Mollerusa, Marc Solsona, complain, "indignant", precisely about the "political" arguments ” that the Supreme accepts to authorize the monitoring: “A judge authorizes spying on the phone because a political issue is very serious. What danger is there? What signs motivate us to be spied on? They will have to motivate what possible crimes we were committing beyond visiting Puigdemont, who is a free politician”, they remark.
The president of the Junts parliamentary group, Albert Batet, also appears on this list and considers the behavior of the judge of the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court, Pablo Lucas, authorizing the eavesdropping of "monumental barbarity" and typical of a dictatorship because he did it "simply for my proximity to President Puigdemont and to obtain information on strategies and political negotiations”.
For her part, the president of the ANC, Elisenda Paluzie, remarks that the events are typical of a police state, which uses tools to combat terrorism to fight against independence. Paluzie assures that she knew at least since June 2018 that she was being spied on through her mobile phone because already then another espionage software other than Pegasus was found on her terminal, and in 2019 she learned that Pegasus had been inoculated on her phone. "But she couldn't do anything," she explains. Before, it was necessary to gather the necessary evidence and extend the investigation to all the different pro-independence actors. “It is something that we already knew, that the State uses weapons of war to prevent the independence of Catalonia and I am satisfied that we have been able to denounce it”, she concludes.
All agree on the need to "go to the end" in reporting this case. So far a few complaints have been filed and a few more accounts are finalized in three places: Catalonia, Madrid and abroad (France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg), and although there are those who regret that one is not going to be in this offensive, Puigdemont's lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, emphasizes the ultimate goal, that "everyone who has participated in this has a responsibility." Boye asks for calm in this company because “what cannot be expected is that we solve it in four days. You have to do it with patience and with strategy”.
The lawyer explains that the follow-up to which he was subjected by the CNI "has to do with the arrest of the president in Belgium and the third European warrant." In the Citizen Lab report, other lawyers who defend pro-independence causes, such as Jaume Alonso Cuevillas or Andreu Van den Eynde, also appear to be spied on, and they all agree that these revelations could support the arguments of the defenses of the procés leaders in their appeals before the European Court of Human Rights against the sentence issued by the Supreme Court. They could also affect cases that are still open, such as the one that affects the ERC deputy, Josep Maria Jové, or defendants in the Volhov case such as the former CDC official David Madí or the former ERC minister Xavier Vendrell, who also appears on the list of the CNI.
Apart from the judicial strategy, the independence movement has in its hands a political response that was unitary at the beginning but has gradually collapsed. "Hopefully this will serve to revive the unity of the independence movement, but I'm not so sure about it," admits Paluzie, something confirmed in the PDECat when they denounce that a "competition has been set up to see who is more independent" depending on whether you have been spied on or not.