Madrid intercepted confidential communications between Catalan officials and the government’s delegates in London, Geneva, and Berlin, and presented them as evidence in a lawsuit seeking the suspension of Catalonia’s foreign offices.
Sergi Marcén in London, Manuel Manonelles in Geneva and Marie Kapretz in Berlin have been spied by order of the Spanish government. Meetings, events, conversations and delegates’ agenda have been the subject of espionage.
General interests of Spain
One document, for example, describes the Catalan delegate to Switzerland as an “activist working against the general interests of Spain” and it goes on to question his legal status in the country.
Another from the Spanish embassy in Germany says the foreign office had instructions from ERC party head, Oriol Junqueras, to contact religious representatives with the “aim” of gaining the support of the Church for “the situation of the Catalan political prisoners.”
The same report informs on the activities of the Berlin delegate who, as with the one in Switzerland, is said to be “spreading the pro-independence message,” considered key in “boosting the international image” of the independence cause.
Catalan president Quim Torra has called for Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, to step down for what he has called “Borrellgate.” Calling the minister’s actions “extremely serious,” Torra also said he would be informing European consulates of the Spanish government’s spying. Catalonia’s foreign minister, Alfred Bosch, expressed himself in similar terms.
Sources from Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry have said that it is their function to “closely monitor any activity that seeks to harm the image of Spain abroad, and in particular, all those related to the pro-independence project of the Government of Catalonia”. Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, has described Catalonia’s foreign offices as “harmful to Spain’s image” and announced that Madrid would try to have the delegations in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Germany closed down.