The Spanish government will be able to send messages by WhatsApp, Telegram and other applications to the population in exceptional situations, according to the preliminary draft of the Telecommunications Act.
“This exceptional and transitional power of direct management or intervention may affect any infrastructure, associated resource or element or level of the network or service that is necessary to preserve or restore public order, public safety or national security,” states the text of the preliminary draft, as reported by the digital newspaper Vozpopuli.
According to the draft, “this power will only be exercised with respect to providers of interpersonal communications services when they are assigned the obligation to transmit public alerts in the event of major catastrophes or imminent or ongoing emergencies.”
The draft proposes a specific intervention by law in communication services such as Whatsapp and Telegram, which operate from outside Spain and pose more problems. For this reason, the Government wants to be able to order them to broadcast messages and alerts that they consider appropriate during an exceptional situation.
What is an exceptional situation? Many people fear the government will use this power to quell legitimate protests or acts of civil disobedience in the future. Whether this law will be used against dissenting and peaceful protesters is still unknown, but the experience in other countries shows that this type of law is likely to be used against the population in the foreseeable future.
The Andorran justice will investigate former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy and the members of his former administration Cristóbal Montoro, Jorge Fernández Díaz and Francisco Martínez for alleged coercion against the Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA). The organization that filed the lawsuit, the Institute of Human Rights of Andorra (IDHA), claims that the former Spanish government threatened to shut down the Andorran bank if it did not provide them with politically-useful information and when the bank refused it, Spain put its threat into action by reporting alleged money-laundering activities to the US Treasury Department, which acted swiftly.
According to the private prosecution, the coercion and threats to the Bank took place during an official visit of Rajoy and Montoro to Andorra in January 2015, when they met with the head of the Andorran government, Toni Martí and other ministers.
The Institute of Human Rights of Andorra (IDHA) claims that the visit was intended to obtain information on Catalan pro-independence politicians. The Andorran justice will investigate all the offenses they are accused of by the private prosecution.
In another case of May and June 2014, it was stated that four Spanish police officers had threatened, coerced and extorted three BPA executives in an attempt to extract information on alleged bank accounts of Catalan pro-independence politicians under the threat that the “bank could end up being blocked from activity,” which is what eventually happened.
The former Minister of Justice of PSOE in the last legislature and new Spain’s Attorney General, Dolores Delgado, affirmed on Monday during the opening ceremony of the judicial year, presided over by King Felipe VI, that the trial of the pro-independence leaders was “a criminal trial of special significance at all levels” where the various legal operators involved “have set an example of institutional normalcy and commitment to duty and legality.”
According to Delgado, the Public Prosecutor’s Office is an institution “close” to the citizens and “a decisive pillar in the defense of legality and democracy and the rule of law. The vocation for public service has been what encouraged the work of prosecutors during 2019,” she said (despite being a politicized institution that has proven to be one of the arms of the repression against the Catalans).
Delgado said that the trial of the pro-independence leaders was held with the additional “guarantee” of “enhanced advertising” because it was broadcast “streaming” through television and radio.
She recalled that the sentence stated that “the facts of the case constituted a crime of sedition and an aggravated crime of embezzlement of public money” and concluded that they had been undertaken “in medial competition” so that the embezzlement could be considered the means “to commit sedition.”
“This culminated a criminal process of special importance at all levels, where the various legal operators involved have set an example of institutional normalcy and commitment to duty and legality,” she concluded.
No reference was made to the flight of King Emeritus Juan Carlos to a country without an extradition treaty with Switzerland or to investigations into his alleged irregular businesses.
The judge of the 5th Court of Prisons has decided to maintain once again the suspension of the open prison regime for Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva and Josep Rull until the Supreme Court resolves the appeals filed by the prosecution against the classification of the political prisoners. The judge has again rejected the appeals filed by the defense.
In a statement, the judge said that the arguments of the defense are the same as those already used in the appeal filed against the first ruling on July 28, in which he suspended the execution of the open regime. That appeal was answered in the ruling of August 11. On August 19, the same court upheld the open prison regime but insisted that the suspension should be maintained pending the Supreme Court ruling.
This decision comes after Spanish prosecutors requested the suspension of the lowest security prison regime for seven of the 9 political prisoners: Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Sànchez, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, and Jordi Turull.
Another judge decided to maintain the open prison regime for jailed Catalan leaders Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa until the Supreme Court makes a final decision on the prosecutor’s requests.
A final decision on the Catalan political prisoners’ jail regime will still have to be made by the Supreme Court for the nine political prisoners in the next few months.