President Aragonès, before the European Pegasus Inquiry Committee: “Catalangate calls into question the democratic quality of the Spanish state”

Catalan President Pere Aragonès, Foreign Minister Meritxell Serret and Barcelona mayoral candidate Ernest Maragall together denounce the neglect of the Spanish state in investigating and its refusal to guarantee there will be no repetition

“We have the right to know the truth and to reparations, not only for the victims but also for democracy itself,” stated the President of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, before the Pegasus Committee of the European Parliament.

The President met with the European mission yesterday accompanied by Foreign Minister Meritxell Serret and Barcelona mayoral candidate and former MEP Ernest Maragall. All three are victims of the illegal espionage uncovered in the Catalangate affair.

“The Spanish state has left the victims of espionage defenceless” said President Aragonès, while “responsibility has not been taken, and many questions remain unanswered.” In the same vein, Mr Aragonès criticized that almost a year after the case was made public, “there is still no investigative due diligence.” One example he pointed to was the fact they had to appear “before the European Parliament” and not “before the Spanish Congress.”

Mr Aragonès warned that “Catalangate calls into question the democratic quality of the Spanish State.” “Lawyers, journalists, civil society representatives, leaders of democratic parties and MEPs have been spied on, as have the last four presidents of the Catalan government.” Mr Aragonès thus pointed at “a dirty war against independence.” “This case is not unrelated to the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain; it is yet another phase of repression.” “The conflict will only be resolved by negotiating and voting,” he said.

“Some believe that the defence of the unity of Spain stands above fundamental rights,” the President concluded. “For us, fundamental rights stand above any political project.”

  President Aragonès, before the European Pegasus Inquiry Committee: “Catalangate calls into question the democratic quality of the Spanish state”

For her part, Foreign Minister Serret queried the committee as to “Who is supposed to protect us, if those who should be protecting us and investigating this case are those who have been spying on us?” Ms Serret labelled the unwillingness of the Spanish executive to identify the perpetrators of the espionage and to guarantee its non-repetition as “flagrant.”

“We are not alone in denouncing the espionage. Other international organizations are also condemning it,” added Ms Serret. In this regard, the minister brought before the Committee the report by three UN Special Rapporteurs on the violations of fundamental rights in the case of espionage on Catalan independence using Pegasus, as well as the position of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the very highest institution regarding Human Rights. “This is not just a problem for Spanish democracy, but for all European democracies and for human rights,” stressed Ms Serret.

Finally, Mr Maragall wanted the lack of guarantees of non-repetition to be put on record. “As a victim, I cannot trust right now that a case like Catalangate will not occur again” he said, and added that “in fact, I cannot even rule out that it is not happening right now.” In this regard, Mr Maragall recalled that the infection of his phone occurred “weeks before” the municipal elections of 2019, during which he was also a Barcelona mayoral candidate. “We wonder whether that infection had anything to do with the final outcome of the elections” he highlighted.

For Mr Maragall, “the resounding silence of the State” is precisely evidence of the political nature of the case, and even “an expression of guilt” on the part of the Spanish executive. “Spain has turned its back on truth” said Mr Maragall, and concluded that “Europe does not and cannot do that.”
The Spanish Congress jilts the Pegasus Committee

The Defence Committee of the Congress was also called today to appear before the European Pegasus Inquiry Committee. However, the meeting was not convened by the Presiding Officer of the Spanish chamber, Socialist Meritxell Batet, due to incompatibility with the no-confidence motion being debated in Congress. Esquerra’s members recalled that the motion had been expressly rescheduled to “boycott the mission.”

Although the meeting could not formally take place, some parliamentarians did exchange opinions informally with the Committee. The Catalan delegation was made up of Esquerra Congress members Montse Bassa and Marta Rosique, as well as congresswoman for Junts, Míriam Nogueras, and CUP congressman Albert Botran, both victims of the Catalangate espionage.

At the informal meeting, Ms Bassa and Ms Rosique submitted a file to the Committee with all the motions in Congress that Esquerra has tried to have passed so as to get to the bottom of the issue, although Ms Bassa confirmed that all of them “have been systematically rejected and blocked by the Spanish executive and the majority in the chamber.”