MEP Diana Riba denounces Spain’s attempts at obstructing the European parliamentary inquiry into Pegasus spyware

Ms Riba calls on the various European political forces to specify a Community-level regulatory framework to put a stop to abusive use of spyware by governments

Esquerra’s spokeswoman before the European Parliament, Diana Riba, appeared before the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Paris yesterday as a victim of cyber-espionage and as a Vice-President of the European Parliament’s committee of inquiry on Pegasus. She warned that “the Spanish state is ready to use any system to undermine our political project, including violating our political rights, the rule of law, and even human rights.”

Ms Riba explained that her phone suffered two attacks in 2019 which “coincided at key moments for Catalan and European politics.” The first was in June, when she had just taken her seat as an MEP. At that time, she said, many conversations were taking place with the party leaders, the legal team and the very President of the European Parliament to discuss the future of Oriol Junqueras’ seat. “The state had access to all this information, and therefore they were not only spying on me, when I already had parliamentary immunity and the legal privileges of an MEP, but on my entire entourage and on the European institutions as a whole,” she complained.

The second attack on Ms Riba was in October 2019, right after the Supreme Court ruling against the pro-independence leaders, “when the talks intensified considerably because we were analysing what the legal strategy in Europe should be from then on,” she explained. “Can we accept that an EU member state carries out activities of espionage, monitoring, interference or influence against the legitimate political action of individuals or groups? Every democrat must give a clear answer,” said Esquerra’s representative.

Towards a European regulatory framework

Esquerra’s spokeswoman recalled that there have also been cases of abuse of these technologies in other countries in the European Union, including Hungary, Poland and Greece. That is why she values the work of the European Parliament’s committee of inquiry “despite the attempts of certain states and political groups, especially the Spanish, to cover up their scandals and hinder the investigation.”

In this regard, she explained that the committee is working to “establish a European legal framework to regulate the use of spyware by governments.” Furthermore, and specifically as a member of the Greens/EFA group, Ms Riba detailed that they will negotiate for this regulation to imply a “general ban with only certain very concrete and specific exceptions, such as an imminent terrorist attack or a serious threat to a country’s public security.” In any case, Ms Riba pointed out that this exception “would have to be approved by the European Commission, and therefore could not be the arbitrary decision of a specific state.”