Spain refuses to comply with the recommendations of the Council of Europe for human rights in Catalonia

The Council of Europe’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has published the follow-up report to its previous resolution regarding Spanish political issues. The resolution, issued in 2021, called for the release of Catalan political prisoners, legal reform involving sedition, and the end of repression against the independence movement.

In the report, the EU Council rapporteur, Boris Cilevičs, criticizes the extradition orders against Catalan exiles; and the possible overturning of the pardons given to the political prisoners.

“It would be very unusual and unfortunate if the pardons, once announced and implemented to release the nine prisoners, were annulled,” Cilevičs said.

Cilevičs also denounces the fact that the Spanish state has not reformed the crimes of sedition and rebellion in the penal code.

“The reform of the rebellion and sedition laws cannot be postponed too long,” he said, regretting that it was not on the Spanish government’s agenda presently. According to him, this reform is key to Spain’s compliance with Council of Europe standards.

The vast majority of the recommendations made in the report approved in June last year have not been implemented by the Spanish authorities. Even pardons – the only decision made in line with the recommendations – are now threatened by the Supreme Court.

On the extradition orders, the rapporteur criticizes the fact that they are still maintained, especially after the pardons were granted.

“The arrest warrants and extradition requests make no sense, in view of the pardons granted to the nine Catalans imprisoned for the same reasons for which those living abroad are demanded,” he said.

The report refers to the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the temporary restoration of the immunity granted to the exiled MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Antoni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí. It was considered that “they were in serious danger of being arrested” and this temporary immunity will be in place until the Spanish judiciary withdraws the court orders issued against them.

In addition, he believes that the state must ensure that the charge of embezzlement “is applied in a way that a person is liable only when effective and quantified losses can be proven in the state budget or assets.”

The rapporteur criticizes the fact that the lawsuits against low-ranking officials for the 1-O remain open, as well as that the successors of the imprisoned pro-independence leaders who have been penalized for “purely symbolic actions that express their solidarity with the detainees.”

The report also mentions “Catalangate,” which considers a fact linked to the 1-O crisis. According to the rapporteur, it is necessary to investigate cases of espionage using the spyware Pegasus in order to “restore confidence in Spanish institutions.”

No resignations yet within the Spanish government over the mass illegal espionage of Catalans

The Spanish government has once again refused to take responsibility for the illegal mass espionage of Catalans. It has refused an independent investigation and dismissed the ministers of interior and defense, who are believed to be behind the scandal.

When confronted by journalists earlier this week, the Spanish administration said that an independent investigation was not needed because all their actions had “always respected the current legislation.” However, it was proven that there were no court orders for the majority of those who were spied on.

Spanish government espionage affected not only Catalan leaders, but also activists, lawyers, their families, and ordinary people who had never been active in politics.

In any real democracy, an independent investigation would have already taken place and the ministers behind the irregularities would have already been dismissed. This fascist attitude shows the willingness of the Spanish administration to use illegal tools against the Catalan pro-independence movement with one single goal: its total destruction.

The sooner the independence movement realizes that the Spanish right and the pseudo-left are united to destroy a democratic movement, the sooner it will be prepared for the next attempt to achieve full independence.

Spain’s army battalion receives blessings at the fascist monument Valley of the Fallen

A battalion of the Spanish Army received the blessing from the abbot’s Santiago Cantera Montenegro at the fascist monument Valley of the Fallen. This is the newest scandal for the Spanish army because of its links with the Franco regime and the far-right.

In photos posted on social media, the soldiers can be seen kneeling on the ground and presenting their weapons to the abbot.

“May the Lord bless and always keep those who serve the homeland under this banner […]. May the Lord look kindly on Spain and grant it peace with all the peoples of the world,” said Cantera.

According to the newspaper Público, battalion sources said that the blessing ceremony took place last week and was organized by the captain, identified as J. L. P.

It should be noted that Abbot Cantera has repeatedly revealed his far-right ideology. In addition to openly opposing the exhumation of Franco’s remains, he was twice on electoral lists of the fascist Falange Española Independiente between 1993 and 1994.

Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez justifies the mass espionage of the Catalan pro-independence movement

Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez has justified the mass espionage of the Catalan pro-independence movement and has shown his contempt towards the prestigious Canadian organization, Citizen Lab, which uncovered the scandal.

“It was done with full respect for the law,” he insisted. According to him, the Spanish government has always acted in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, though facts prove the contrary. This was his excuse to refuse an independent investigation into the matter.

Regarding the Citizen Lab report, Sánchez said that he had reasonable doubts: “The great majority of mobiles have been intervened by unknown actors and aliens to the Spanish government.” According to him, Citizen Lab has been unable to identify the author of the attacks, though the Pegasus spyware is only used by states and the Spanish intelligence has admitted its regular use against the pro-independence movement.

Over 30 international organizations say that Spanish intelligence agency fails to comply with democratic standards

The use of Pegasus spyware against Europeans, Catalan leaders, human right defenders, lawyers, activists, and the general public has caused over 30 international human rights and civil liberties organizations to have expressed their rejection of the practice.

The organizations said that digital espionage is not “legal or democratic” and an independent investigation is needed to provide clarity.

“The software intercepts all the contents of the device; all apps used and when; as well as geolocation data,” explained Anaïs Franquesa, a human rights lawyer for Irídia.

The groups also called for proper regulation of Spain’s National Intelligence Center (CNI), criticizing the current rules as “vague, indefinite,” and falling short of “the standards of international human rights law.”

Gervanosi, the director of the international institute for nonviolent action NovAct, issued a warning about the widespread use of this technology. “The use of this technology is a flagrant violation of the right to privacy, brings a great deal of vulnerability to victims and involves the violation of the right to [legal] defense and professional secrecy in certain cases.”

Violating EU regulation, the European Commission met with the far-right pro-Spain organization Catalan Civil Society

The EU commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynders, met with the far-right organization Catalan Civil Society (SCC) in December 2021 without being registered in the Transparency Register of the EU, which is a violation of EU regulations.

The EU internal code of conduct prohibits commissioners from meeting with organizations that are not registered.

The code of conduct

“Commissioners and members of their cabinet may only meet with those organizations or autonomous individuals that are registered in the Transparency Register (…) to the extent that they fall within its scope,” says Article 7. of code of conduct of the community executive.

The Transparency Register is a database that includes; stakeholders, organizations, associations, groups, and self-employed people who carry out activities to influence EU policy and decision-making.

Revealed: Massive Espionage of Catalans by Spain

Over 65 Catalan pro-independence leaders, activists and lawyers, as well as thousands of citizens have been massively spied upon by Spain, using the Israeli Pegasus spyware, according to revelations disclosed by the prestigious Canadian NGO, The Citizen Lab.

The attack on Catalan leaders is the largest in the world using the Pegasus spyware, which can only be bought by states. An important fact, which has not left anyone indifferent.

John Scott-Railton, a senior investigator at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab high-tech human rights abuses research group: “There is solid circumstantial evidence to suggest that the perpetrators of the espionage with Pegasus spyware is one or more entities in the Spanish government.”

List of some of the leaders affected by the espionage

Presidents

– Catalan President Pere Aragonès

– Former President Carles Puigdemont

– Former President Quim Torra

– Former President Artur Mas

Members of the European Parliament

– Clara Ponsatí (Junts)

– Antoni Comín (Junts)

– Diana Riba (ERC)

– Jordi Solé (ERC)

Catalan Civil Society

– Jordi Sànchez, former President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC)

– Elisenda Paluzie, President of the ANC.

– Sònia Urpí, board member of the ANC.

– Jordi Cuixart, former President of Òmnium Cultural.

– Marcel Mauri, former Vice-President of Òmnium Cultural.

– Jordi Bosch, board member of Òmnium Cultural.

– Elena Jiménez, board member of Òmnium Cultural.

Lawyers

Gonzalo Boye, representing Puigdemont as well as many Catalan pro-independence figures.

– Andreu Van den Eynde, representing leaders such as Oriol Junqueras, Raül Romeva, Roger Torrent, and Ernest Maragall.

– Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, a lawyer who represented Carles Puigdemont.

Speakers

– Roger Torrent, former Parliament speaker.

– The current speaker, Laura Borràs.

Parties

– Esquerra Republicana (ERC): 12 members targeted

– Junts: 11 members targeted

– CUP: 4 members targeted.

– PDeCAT: 3 members targeted.

Collateral damage

The mass espionage of Catalan leaders, lawyers, and civil society figures has also affected thousands of ordinary citizens.

Poll: Over 71% of Catalan Pro-Independence Activists Are Willing to Participate in Acts of Peaceful Civil Disobedience

71.3% of pro-independence activists are willing to participate in acts of peaceful civil disobedience to achieve the independence of Catalonia, according to a survey published by the Catalonia Global Institute and carried out by GESOP.

The study indicates the majority of individuals of various backgrounds are willing to participate in non-violent civil disobedience movements for independence. Nevertheless, there are differences in opinions between parties.

The CUP voters are the most supportive (86%), followed by Junts per Catalunya (72.9%), and Esquerra Republicana (60%). By age, 76.9% of the respondents 16 to 29 years old are in favor, a percentage that falls to 71.7% among those 30 to 44 years old, and 69.8% among those 45 to 59 years old, and 69% among those 60 years old or older.

The survey of the Catalonia Global Institute was based in a sample of 1603 territorially segmented people. The survey directly asked: “Would you be willing to participate in a movement of peaceful civil disobedience to achieve independence?”


The Ghent Court of Appeal will Announce the Final Decision on the Extradition of Catalan Countries’ Rapper Valtònyc on May 17

The Ghent Court of Appeal in Belgium will announce the final decision on the extradition of Catalan Countries’ rapper Valtònyc on May 17, after re-examining his case.

The same court had already rejected his extradition last December, arguing that the crimes for which he was convicted in Spain – inciting terrorism, insults to the crown, and threats – did not fit within the Belgian penal code, an essential situation for the execution of an extradition order. However, the Belgian Court of Cassation scheduled another trial after an appeal was filed by the prosecutors, who represent Spain’s interests. The reason being to analyze whether insults to the Spanish crown would be the same crime as insults to deputies, ministers, and officials.

Valtònyc : “I think it is interesting that a court of the European Union is debating what is happening in Spain in relation to its freedom of expression.”

The rapper’s case already motivated the annulment by the Constitutional Court of a law of 1847 that protected the Belgian king from insults. This happened after the Ghent Court of Appeal asked the Belgian Constitutional Court whether the law of Lèse-majesté was constitutional, arguing that it did not respect freedom of expression.

In the hypothetical case that Belgian justice agrees on the extradition of Valtonyc, Spain could only make him comply with the sentence for the crime of insults to the crown.

The High Court of England and Wales Rules against Spain’s Former King Juan Carlos’ Immunity

The High Court of England and Wales ruled that former king of Spain Juan Carlos no longer has immunity and can be judged on British territory. The court argued that he is no longer a “sovereign” or “head of state” following his abdication in 2014.

The High Court (based in London) will now move forward with the former king’s ex-lover Corinna (Larsen) zu Sayn-Wittgenstein’s harassment allegations. The businesswoman filed a lawsuit against the former king in 2021 for “defamation, threats, and follow-ups” from 2012 to the present. She also denounced attempts by the Spanish Secret Services to enter her house and place a tracking beacon on her car.

Larsen said she suffered from “anxiety, humiliation, and moral stigma.” This led to the depression that isolated her from her kids, friends, and business partners.

“If the case goes further, the Defendant will have an opportunity to defend himself against any claims made towards him. Ultimately, the Court will hear evidence and make a decision after a trial,” the ruling reads.

The defendant, Juan Carlos, cited sovereign immunity, as a member of the Spanish royal household, to evade scrutiny. However, the court rejected his status.

“The fact that the Defendant has been granted a special constitutional status in Spain does not make him a sovereign,” the ruling reads. “Since he abdicated in 2014, the Defendant is not the head of state of Spain,” the court stated.

In the past few years, Spain’s former king Juan Carlos has been involved in several cases of corruption and money laundering.