Puigdemont announces lawsuit against Spanish state for political espionage: "We have evidence"
The former president meets French MPs to explain the situation in Catalonia
ParisFormer president Carles Puigdemont has assured this Friday that he will file a lawsuit over the Spanish state's alleged "high level" political espionage using spy programme Pegasus. "We have evidence and it will be duly reported," he said at the gates of the French National Assembly, where he has met with a dozen French deputies and senators – from the Greens, France Insoumise and Libertés et territoires – to explain the situation of exiles and "Spain's repression in Catalonia". "The Pegasus system is political espionage and this is a crime," he has denounced.
Puigdemont, annoyed by the leaks to the New York Times about his alleged link with Moscow, said that the Spanish state intends to "persecute and attack the reputation of political dissidents" through fake news and political espionage. According to the former president in a statement to the press, "the drift of European democracy, which seriously threatens the quality of democracy, is very worrying". This week, ERC and JxCat have denounced to the plenary of the European Parliament that the State uses Pegasus – a programme developed by an Israeli company capable of stealing data from mobile phones – to spy on pro-independence politicians. "We have evidence and it is unacceptable," said Puigdemont before asking Europe to put a halt to the Spanish state's actions.
On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted in favour of a report on relations between the EU and Russia in which it asked - through an amendment introduced by the group of socialists - for an "in depth investigation" of the alleged "narrow and regular" contacts between Russian officials and people from Puigdemont's environment. The amendment was presented by the Socialists as a result of the article published by the New York Times about alleged contacts between Russia and Josep Maria Alay, head of the former president's cabinet, and lawyer Gonzalo Boye, to seek Russian support for Catalan independence. The allegations, based on leaked reports from different police forces, including the Guardia Civil, were denied by Puigdemont, Alay and by the Kremlin.
Attack on fundamental freedoms
Friday's meeting with Puigdemont was attended, among others, by Corsican MPs Jean-Felix Acquaviva and Paul-André Colombani. Acquaviva has assured that his political group, Libertés et territoires, considers that Spain would have to put an end "to attacks on fundamental freedoms" in Catalonia. "There is a strong convergence from this point of view: a true political expression must be allowed" Acquaviva stated. The MP also called on the European Union to manage conflicts like the one in Catalonia "more democratically", "which can only be solved through dialogue".
Carles Puigdemont stressed that MPs with whom he has met have expressed their "resounding" and "unwavering" commitment to respect fundamental rights and democracy in Europe "beyond whether or not they agree with the independence of Catalonia". Puigdemont has claimed that the French MPs "feel very concerned" about this defence of all citizens' fundamental rights.