Politics 02/12/2021

European Intelligence Agency denies existence of report on alleged Russian contacts with Catalan Independence bid

It distances itself from the information published by the 'New York Times' on Alay and Boye

2 min
Josep Lluís Alay, in an archive image.

BarcelonaOn September 3 this year the New York Times published a report on the alleged links between the Independence bid and Russia. It cited as sources, among others, reports from the Guardia Civil and also "European intelligence" reports. Well, according to the European Intelligence Agency in a parliamentary response to JxCat, this agency is not behind the report cited by the American newspaper. "The European Union Intelligence and Situation Centre (EU INTCEN) is not the author of the intelligence report mentioned in the article in the New York Times article," it says, adding that it is unaware of the authorship of the report in question.

"Three months ago the New York Times published an article about the alleged Russian connection with Catalonia playing into the hands of Spanish fantasies. Today the European Commission denies them denying the existence of European intelligence reports on the case," claimed former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont's chief of staff, Josep Lluís Alay, on Twitter, making the Commission's parliamentary response public.

The question was addressed directly to the high representative of the European Union and vice president of the Commission, the former socialist minister Josep Borrell. In his response, Borrell describes this European intelligence agency's function – basically to detect possible threats or weaknesses in the EU – and notes that no report has been prepared on the alleged links between the Independence bid and Russia, as cited by the New York Times.

The information of the American newspaper, denied by those close to Puigdemont when it was published, pointed directly to Alay and the former president's lawyer, Gonzalo Boye. It assured that they had sought Russia's support for the independence bid. It referred, in particular, to a series of trips Alay made to Russia in 2019 and 2020 and a series of meetings with people linked to the Kremlin and the Russian secret services. The sources they cited were European intelligence reports and the Spanish Guardia Civil, which is investigating Alay, since he was arrested last October as part of Operation Volhov , a police investigation covering relations with Russia and urban redevelopment in Catalonia.

When the article was published, the ex president's office said in a statement that the "leaks that appeared were decontextualized" and full of "falsehoods, inconsistencies and intoxications". According to Puigdemont, the source of the article – although the newspaper cited European intelligence reports – was only the investigation of the Guardia Civil, which wants to "discredit" the independence movement and present it in Europe as a "destabilising element".

Now, after the European Commission's response, Puigdemont's entourage considers his thesis confirmed. "From Spanish judges, police and politicians or journalists eager for unverified stories, I could expect anything. What I find most surprising and shameful is that some Catalan politicians and journalists would believe a story fabricated by the Spanish deep state", Alay concluded this Friday.

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