Catalonia's regional head of government Pere Aragones, Reuters/Albert Gea
Catalonia's regional leader on Friday denied allegations by Spain's spy agency CNI that he had secretly led a radical separatist protest group, which he said CNI had used as a pretext to snoop on him.
Pere Aragones told reporters he had received on Thursday some heavily redacted declassified CNI documents related to the alleged espionage he had been subject to, and he called for those responsible to be held accountable. He did not show the documents to reporters.
Canada-based group Citizen Lab that studies information controls that pose threats to human rights said in 2022 that in the wake of a failed independence bid in 2017, more than 60 people linked to the Catalan separatist movement, including Aragones, had been targeted by Pegasus spyware.
Asked about the documents, Spain's Justice Minister Felix Bolanos reiterated that the government did not know about nor authorise the alleged spying. He said the CNI and the court that approves its actions have no obligation to inform the government about their work.
Aragones said the declassified documents allege he was the behind-the-scenes coordinator of a group called CDR that staged sometimes violent protests, blocking train lines or attempting to storm the regional parliament.
"(The documents) make this affirmation that is obviously out of touch with any minimum sense of reality," Aragones told reporters, adding that the documents provided no explanation for such suspicions.
Aragones said the documents were full of falsehoods and their aim was to destroy the legitimate political project of Catalan independence from Spain.
Spain's minority leftist government relies on Catalan pro-independence parties to approve legislation and has given them concessions such as a recent bill on amnesty for separatists, but it has ruled out a referendum on Catalan independence.
Aragones' case is being investigated by a Barcelona court after he filed a complaint against former CNI chief Paz Esteban and spyware maker NSO Group. Esteban, who was sacked amid the political storm triggered by the allegations, was scheduled to testify on Friday before the court.
Reporting by Joan Faus