The Spanish government has refused to dismiss the ministers who were behind the massive espionage of Catalan pro-independence leaders, lawyers, activists, and the general public. Instead, it has dismissed the head of the intelligence service (CNI), Paz Esteban, who was acting upon the orders of the Spanish executive office. The move comes a few days after Esteban admitted that authorities had spied on Catalan pro-independence leaders.
The decision intended as a smokescreen for the big scandal was taken during a regular meeting, under the guise that it was a replacement.
Catalan government: Esteban’s dismissal “not enough”
According to Patrícia Plaja, a spokesperson for the Catalan government, “The change at the head of the Spanish intelligence services does not resolve everything and does not bring an end to the issue. Anyone who believed it was mistaken. It is not enough.” She also called for an investigation to find out who allowed the spying, who ordered it, and who knew about it.”
Minister Robles did not share the reason for Esteban’s removal and thanked her for her work as a director of the intelligence services. The defense minister has also received calls from pro-independence parties to step down, but maintains that she will continue to “serve Spain” as she has done for the last four years,” and that she will act guided by “respect for the rule of law” and “empathy.”
Catalangate is the name given by the Citizen Lab, a University of Toronto-based research group that reports on high-tech human rights abuses, to its investigation into the espionage against several Catalan pro-independence politicians, activists, and their close associates. It is “the largest forensically documented cluster of such attacks and infections on record,” the Yorker magazine.