Harsh European Parliament report against Spanish government on Catalangate espionage scandal

  • Draft EU spyware inquiry findings suggest Spanish executive was NSO Group's first EU client

MEP Sophie in 't Veld / Picture by ALDE Party
VilaWeb / Catalan News Agency
08.11.2022 - 13:40
Actualització: 08.11.2022 - 13:44

The preliminary findings of the EU Parliament inquiry into the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware point to the Spanish government as the party behind the mass espionage of members of the Catalan independence movement known as Catalangate, which was first revealed by tech crime research group Citizen Lab and The New Yorker in April.

In a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday, Dutch MEP and inquiry committee rapporteur Sophie in ‘t Veld stated that Spain was “probably” NSO Group’s first client in the European Union. “We have very little official information on what is happening but what we do see is that there are strong indications that politicians and others have been monitored, spied upon, with no evident, imminent, immediate threat to national security,” in ‘t Veld said of Spain.

“We warmly invite Spanish authorities to provide us with more information so we can assess the situation,” she said, adding that she understood it was “a very delicate” matter. The draft report also suggests that, as Spanish authorities have only admitted to 18 of the 65 cases revealed by Citizen Lab, “it is not possible to determine” that the independence movement posed a “threat to national security or the integrity of the state.”

Velvet gloves for internal threats

The Dutch MEP was very critical of what she described as the EU’s “firm” stance against external threats to democracy, including new Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s stance on content moderation, while being “silent” about threats that do not come from “some faraway stranger but the governments of EU member states.”

And although the European Commission fights attacks on democracy from the outside and has a democracy action plan to counter fake news, she said “the commission suddenly considers that the defense of EU democracy is no longer a European matter, but a matter for the member states” when threats come from within. “The commission shows muscle to Musk, but velvet gloves to member states using spyware on citizens.”


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