PSOE refuses to make Pegasus case documents public

Spanish government open to declassify information only if required by a judge and the Ombudsman, and show it to official secrets committee

3 min
The PSOE spokesman, Felipe Sicilia, in a press conference at Ferraz headquarters

MadridThe Spanish government is willing to declassify documents linked to the Pegasus case, but not to make them freely accessible to the public. Unidas Podemos and pro-independence parties have requested the publication of court authorisations that CNI director Paz Esteban showed the official secrets committee. However, Socialist spokesperson Felipe Sicilia has made clear that if any document is declassified it will only be available through the "appropriate channels": behind closed doors in the parliamentary committee. Declassification, moreover, will only occur if requested by the Ombudsman, who is investigating the events, or a judge. Documents will not be made public because of requests by Catalan president Pere Aragonès.

"It is in the official secrets committee that secrets are explained. This is what the law says. It is not about who requests it. The government is willing to be held to account, but at the appropriate place," said Sicilia. The other response that the independence movement expects is resignations, although for the moment Minister of Defence Margarita Robles and the CNI director remain in their posts. The government still wants to wait for the results of the internal investigation the intelligence services are carrying out to determine whether there were more ministers spied on. Until then, the Socialists are closing ranks. "There is no reason why the director of the CNI should resign. If she continues it is because we have confidence in her work," Sicilia said.

While there are many references to the provisionality in the case of Esteban, the Socialists are more forthright when it comes to the Minister of Defence. Robles has the full support of the party and the entire government. "She is a magnificent minister, by the way. It is a source of pride for this party that Robles is the Minister of Defence," said the Socialist spokesman. PSOE sources deny that Sánchez has expressed concern to his cabinet and party colleagues about the fact that he has been spied on. And regarding Catalangate, they play down the fact that one of the targets was Aragonès, vice-president of the Catalan government at the time and leader of ERC. They emphasise the fact that a judge authorised intercepting his communications and that politicians cannot question the judge's authority. According to Sicília, the fact that the Spanish government did not know the CNI was spying on Aragonès has not been addressed within the executive.

Ban Pegasus "drastically"

Despite the PSOE's refusal, the independence movement continues to insist declassification is key if the Spanish government wants to give signs that it is taking the problem seriously. This Monday JxCat secretary general Jordi Sànchez insisted on this idea. He has recalled that President Pedro Sánchez "has the powers to declassify these reports". In addition, he has shown himself convinced that the socialist president had access to the "CNI reports" with all the information. Catalan minister for Foreign Affairs, Victòria Alsina, has used Europe Day to ask the EU to act so that programmes such as spyware Pegasus be "drastically banned".

The deputy secretary general of ERC, Marta Vilalta, on Monday.

ERC also demanded the documents be declassified. Its deputy secretary general, Marta Vilalta, has regretted that three weeks after the outbreak of Catalangate the Spanish executive has not yet taken "any responsibility", Quim Bertomeu reports. She believes that with this paralysis "the message they are sending is that they are willing to kill democracy to defend the unity of Spain". As there still haven't been any concrete answers, ERC has brought a motion to the Catalan Parliament that will be voted on this Thursday and which will demand the resignation of the Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, for having "admitted and justified mass surveillance" in the Spanish Parliaemnt. ERC says the very least would be for Robles to resign, but they do not rule out seeking more resignations.