Last week the Chief of Staff of Spain’s Civil Guard, José Manuel Santiago, said that the body he oversees is working to “minimize the dissatisfaction with the [Spanish] government and its management of the [health] crisis.” Later, he said that his words were misinterpreted and he added that in his 40-year career he had “learned that people come first.”
On Monday, Cadena Ser revealed that the Civil Guard Chief received an email from the Spanish interior ministry on April 15, urging the paramilitary police body to identify fake news likely to create “hostility to government institutions.”
The intent of this email was to prepare a monographic report “with the purpose of being addressed in future meetings by the head of the ministerial department.” The email also asks for the inclusion of cyber crimes, repeated investigations of such crimes and complaints regarding online sales of products such as masks.
This report would be carried out by the Cybersecurity Coordination Unit, which in previous reports has described disinformation as “a set of publications on the Internet, mainly on social networks, of false news, half truths and highly subjective information with a destabilizing purpose of breaking down trust in public powers and representatives.”
Cadena Ser also revealed the existence of another email from the Civil Guard sent to the different command headquarters all across the country on April 15, urging its officers to identify fake news “likely to cause social distress and disaffection towards government institutions.”
Spain’s Civil Guard sources assured Cadena Ser that this strategy has been used in other “social conflicts” with the aim of informing the Government of false news with a destabilizing purpose, and identifying any criminal acts for referral to the judge or the prosecutor.