The National Intelligence Center (CNI) asked to confiscate the mobile phone of the President of the Generalitat, Father Aragones, because this phone, which was not official, with which he had institutional contacts, was used by the alleged CDR intermediary. (Committees of Defense of the Republic), the strike force of the independence movement, according to sources who had access to the court order that authorized the wiretapping.
Although Citizen Lab, the University of Toronto (Canada) panel of experts that uncovered the Pegasus case, did not specify the date of the Aragonès mobile phone contamination, the intervention occurred in the fall of 2019, when Catalonia was the scene of violent riots to protest against the court verdict, including the attempted takeover of El El Airport. Prat (Barcelona). At that time, Aragonés was already the coordinator of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), although he was still only a vice-president of the Generalitat.
In the nearly four hours that the then CNI director appeared before the Congressional Committee on Secrets on May 5, Paz Esteban never acknowledged that the center he ran had the Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO Group. He also did not mention Aragones or explain the reasons why he was being followed, and limited himself to a general summary of the activities carried out by the secret service, always within the bounds of legality, he assured.
However, each of the 10 parliamentarians who made up the commission had a folder in their name containing court decisions authorizing 18 telephone interventions — less than a third of the 65 exposed by Citizen Lab — recognized by the secret service as their own. .
Several participants admitted a posteriori that they were surprised by the amount of documentation provided by the director of the CNI as they did not know what information would be provided or how to do so. The meeting was adjourned for just under 15 minutes to allow them to review the 18 judgments, six to seven pages each, depending on whether it was a new telephone intervention or an extension of another three months of the original authorization, as was the case. in several cases.
Deputies took notes by hand, as they were not allowed to enter the meeting room with mobile phones or audio or image capture equipment. Even United We Can representative Pablo Ehenike, who was allowed by Cortes President Meritxell Butet to use an electronic tablet that would allow him to write, since his physical condition does not allow him to do it manually.
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A court order authorizing the use of an Aragones cell phone, signed by a magistrate in the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court that oversees CNI activities, removed names according to those who had access to the document and also crossed out snippets of dialogue that appeared to be consistent with wiretapping. One of the deputies, who had a document in his hands, assures that it was, in general, about “contacts [de Aragonès] with CDR.
According to some sources, the alleged intermediary who could have led to the phone of the current president was Benet Salellas, Catalan MP for the CUP (2015-2017) and defender of Jordi Quixart, president of Òmnium Cultural, in the trial process. Among many others, he was also a lawyer for businessman Oriol Soler, one of the alleged founders of Tsunami Democràtic, a platform that facilitated the mobilization in the fall of 2019, or Tamara Carrasco, a CDR activist charged with terrorism and finally acquitted.
Salellas’ name does not appear in the Aragones document, according to those with access to the text, but does appear in one of the other 17 court resolutions that the director of the CNI presented to Congress, despite the fact that it is not on the list of 65 people. who were allegedly spied on by Citizen Lab. Salellas assured EL PAÍS that he had had the same phone number for many years and that he had not matched or been in contact with Aragones since in October 2017 Mariano Rajoy’s government intervened in Catalan autonomy in the application of Article 155 Constitution.
The format of the CNI director’s speech before the Commission on State Secrets did not help clarify this and many other extremes. After Esteban’s initial speech, one after the other, 10 deputies from as many parliamentary groups intervened. The face that appeared then answered and still had the right to a final answer for just over a minute before the CNI director ended the session. It was in this last section, according to some present, that a moment of tension arose when JuntsxCat spokesperson Miriam Nogueras asked Esteban directly about the reasons why she was being spied on. However, several representatives assure that neither Nogueras nor Albert Botran, a CUP spokesman who also attended the commission, are among the 18 people whom the CNI admits they heard with judicial authority, although they are on the list of 65 alleged spies. at Citizen Lab.
The ERC demanded that court decisions explaining why 18 pro-independence supporters were being monitored be declassified and made public. The government says it is ready to do so, but only at the request of a judge.
From the capture of the airport to the battle of Urkinaon
Alfonso L. Congostrina (Barcelona)
Catalonia experienced a wave of violent protests in October 2019 when the Supreme Court issued a conviction of 12 pro-independence leaders (those who did not flee Spain). Between October 14 and 20, supposedly anonymous groups such as the Democratic Tsunami and the Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR), along with pro-independence parties and organizations, took to the streets and confronted the police, literally throwing stones at the center of Barcelona .
On October 14, minutes after the ruling was published, thousands of people blocked several roads and headed towards Barcelona-El Prat airport, causing it to collapse and causing the cancellation of 108 flights. Several railway lines were cut and a real fierce battle took place between the protesters, the national police and Mossos, as a result of which several people were injured.
On Tuesday, the 15th, it was the turn of the government delegation of Catalonia. Around her, several protesters built barricades of burning containers and clashed with police. Marches began the next day—from Girona, Vic, Tarragona, Tarrega and Berga—thousands of people who began walking towards Barcelona with the thought that on Friday the 18th the city would be paralyzed by a general strike. That day in the Catalan capital, the protest focused on the Ministry of the Interior, where fire, stones and police charges returned. On Thursday the 17th, a Spanish far-right group called on its fighters to confront the CDR. Once again, the night ended in riots and clashes.
The busiest day was Friday the 18th. A general strike paralyzed cities, roads were cut off, and dozens of well-prepared groups began what would eventually become known as the Battle of Urkinaon. Via Laietana and Plaza de Urquinaona were left unrecognizable after protesters raised sidewalks and threw cobblestones at police, who responded with rubber bullets. For the first time in the history of Mossos, the regional police have launched a reservoir that fires pressurized water to dissuade the protesters. After the Battle of Urkinaon, the unrest subsided.
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