Sources in Spanish Intelligence Admit Spying on Catalan Politicians - Reports

CC BY 2.0 / Victoriano Javier Tornel García / The Catalan government's headquarters, Generalitat
The Catalan government's headquarters, Generalitat - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.04.2022
MADRID (Sputnik) - The National Intelligence Center (CNI) of Spain spied on several Catalan politicians who supported the independence movement in the region while acting under judicial control, El Pais newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing sources in the Spanish intelligence.
The newspaper noted that the CNI strictly followed the country's laws and its own charter, which stipulates that the center must "prevent any threat to the territorial integrity of Spain." The newspaper's sources also said that the list of wiretapped politicians is not as long as the Catalan government claims it is.
Earlier this month, a research group based at the University of Toronto, Citizen Lab, revealed that over 60 mobile devices of politicians advocating the independence of Catalonia were tapped using Pegasus spyware.
Pegasus, developed by the Israeli NOS Group, is claimed to be sold only to states and state agencies and used in criminal investigations. It allows to intercept phone calls, gives access to the information stored on a phone and even activates a camera and a microphone.
According to El Pais sources, the Spanish government bought Pegasus in the middle of the last decade for five million euros ($5.3 million).
When asked why the Spanish government opted for buying this spyware instead of pinging phones based on a court decision, the intelligence sources explained that Pegasus can locate a phone when it is out of range of Spanish mobile operators and intercept calls made via WhatsApp and Telegram.
The CNI is reported to have received an authorization for wiretap from a Spanish Supreme Court judge charged with overseeing the agency’s activities.
For example, Pegasus was used to track the former president of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain in 2017 after being charged with secession over his role in the referendum and unilateral declaration of Catalonia’s independence, considered illegal by the Spanish government.
According to El Pais, CNI tapped the phone of one of the individuals accompanying Puigdemont, thanks to which the Spanish intelligence knew his entire 2,500-kilometre (1,553 miles) journey to the north of Germany.
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