The investigating judge admits the complaint against Israeli firm NSO
Court of inquiry number 24 in Barcelona has admitted a complaint by lawyer Andreu Van den Eynde against Israeli firm NSO in the Catalangate case, in which the devices of several pro-independence leaders were used to spy on them. This is the first lawsuit against the Israeli company in Catalonia.
The judge has agreed to admit the complaint against the NSO Group for the “creation of the Pegasus spyware and for making it available to third parties” as well as for all those “acts and omissions” of the company that might be susceptible to “contributing voluntarily and consciously to the verification of infection, access and extraction of information” from Mr Van den Eynde’s devices.
The judge has also agreed to initiate preliminary proceedings. Mr Van den Eynde filed his complaint on May 17, 2022 and has been summoned to testify on July 18.
“For the first time, a court has made a decision aimed at investigating the facts in an effective manner,” said Andreu Van den Eynde. “It is the first decision we can regard as effective judicial protection for the victims of the facts.”
Mr Van den Eynde considers that “the resolution accepts that, within the hypotheses of the investigation, it should be clarified what the role played by NSO is, since despite being the only developer and marketer of Pegasus, it remains in the shadows and works opaquely.” This opaqueness, says Mr Van den Eynde, “is because of the lack of investigation by the Catalan judiciary so far.”
the court supports the thesis defended by the Citizen Lab report, which suggests the hypothesis of a mass espionage operation with a clear political dispositionAndreu Van den Eynde Lawyer
Connection with the complaints before court number 32
Court of inquiry number 20 in Barcelona, at present hearing the case of Josep Maria Jové, the chair of the Esquerra Republicana parliamentary group, and of Esquerra MEP Diana Riba, has referred the case to court number 32 at the request of both Esquerra and the Public Prosecutor so as to combine those cases with those of the Minister of Business and Labour Roger Torrent and MP and chair of the Barcelona City Council group, Ernest Maragall.
The judge finds that the requirements for connection between all the cases have been met: she specifies that the criminal act “is the same” and that “the victims are linked to each other by ideological affinity and belong to the same political group.” In addition, the judge also insinuates that, although the perpetrators in the case are unknown, “everything points to their being the same people.” This argument has, however, been used by court number 32 for not combining with the case of the complaints filed by cultural association Omnium and the CUP party.
Mr Van den Eynde argues that, with this position, “the court supports the thesis defended by the Citizen Lab report, which suggests the hypothesis of a mass espionage operation with a clear political disposition, and that the evidence points to action by Spanish government agencies.”
In any case, says the lawyer, it is “the criminal investigation that will have to clarify the facts and responsibilities,” but it was “shocking,” says Mr Van den Eynde, that the different Catalan courts and the Public Prosecutor’s Office have so far disregarded the clear connections between the different espionage cases directed at the Catalan independence movement,” he concludes.