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Spain’s PM vows accountability over alleged Israeli spyware use against Catalan separatists

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrives ahead of a NATO summit at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24, 2022. (Kenzo Tribouillard/ AFP)
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrives ahead of a NATO summit at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24, 2022. (Kenzo Tribouillard/ AFP)

MADRID, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez vows to “be accountable” for allegations that Madrid spied on dozens of Catalan separatist figures using controversial spyware.

The allegations have strained relations between Sanchez’s leftist minority coalition government and the Catalan separatist party ERC, whose support he needs to pass legislation.

Canada’s Citizen Lab group said last week that more than 60 people linked to the Catalan separatist movement had been targets of Pegasus spyware after a failed independence bid in 2017.

Elected officials, including current and former Catalan regional leaders, were among those targeted by the spyware made by Israel’s NSO group, which infiltrates mobile phones to extract data or activate a camera or microphone and spy on its owners.

“We will be accountable,” Sanchez says during a parliamentary debate today, his first public comments on the spying allegations.

“This is a serious issue which demands serious answers,” he adds.

The government said Sunday it would launch inquiries into the affair.

It has neither confirmed nor denied whether it uses Pegasus or similar spyware, saying only that any surveillance was carried out under the supervision of judges.

Sanchez vows “maximum transparency,” saying documents could be declassified to help the investigations.

At the same time, he defends Spain’s intelligence service, the CNI, saying everything it had done had been carried out “scrupulously and with rigor, within the framework of the law.”

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