Spain’s King meets with the general who wanted to intervene Catalonia in 2017

Last week, Spain’s King Felipe VI met with ex-chief of the Defense General Staff (JEMAD), Fernando Alejandre, the general who designed a plan to deploy the army in Catalonia in the aftermath of the 2017 independence referendum. This meeting took place during an event to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the completion of studies at the various Spanish military academies.

In one of his books, Alejandre stated that he had designed a plan to deploy the army in Catalonia in the aftermath of the independence referendum. According to him, this plan had been accepted by the then minister of defense, María Dolores de Cospedal (PP). The intention was to respond to the independence movement in the event that the Catalans’ vote led to the implementation of independence.

Alejandre affirms that the orders to implement the plan were active for eight seconds, the period of time that the Unilateral Declaration of Independence lasted on October 10th, 2017 before being suspended by President Carles Puigdemont in order to facilitate negotiations. Since the independence of Catalonia never did go beyond those eight seconds, the military plan was not deployed.

The Spanish government says that they knew nothing about the military plan, though there could be documents proving the opposite.

EU Parliament report: The Spanish government spies on Catalans

The EU Parliament inquiry into espionage with the use of Pegasus, a surveillance spyware, suggests that the Spanish government is behind the mass spying on the Catalan independence movement. According to the report, the espionage “shows a clear pattern” and included, spying on court cases against independence leaders, mass demonstrations, and communications of exiles and several Catalan leaders.

In a conference in Brussels, Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, the inquiry committee rapporteur, stated that Spain was “probably” NSO Group’s first client in the European Union. The NSO is the Israeli company behind the Pegasus spyware.

Sophie in ‘t Veld: “There is evidence that Catalan politicians and others have been monitored, spied upon, while presenting no imminent, immediate threat to national security. We invite Spanish authorities to give us more information, so we can assess the situation in this very delicate matter.”

In ‘t Veld: “It is deeply worrying when there is no accountability.” She also called for sending a delegation to Spain to further investigate the case.

Reactions in Catalonia

President Pere Aragonès: “In a democracy, you don’t spy on your political opponents. We must get to the bottom of the matter.”

Foreign minister Meritxell Serret: “We celebrate the warning that has been issued to Spain.”

Òmnium and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC): “Spain is prepared to be discredited internationally before backing down.”

CUP party called for Spanish Justice Minister Margarita Robles and Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska to step down while demanding the Catalan government to stop “dialogue” with the Spanish government, warning that it is not possible to negotiate with those who are spying on you.

Junts and ERC also called for an international investigation into the matter.

The Spanish government has so far ignored the EU parliament’s findings and has defended their “tackling” of the case.