Spain pledges to be transparent in the investigation into the use of Pegasus spyware | Economic news

By ARITZ PARRA, Associated Press

MADRID (AP) — Spanish authorities are promising full transparency as they launch investigations into allegations that the phones of dozens of Catalan independence supporters were hacked with powerful and controversial spyware sold only to government agencies.

An internal investigation by the country’s intelligence agency, a special parliamentary commission to share its findings and a separate investigation by Spain’s mediator will be organized to show central authorities in Madrid have “nothing to hide”, the official said. Minister for the Presidency and Relations with Parliament. , Félix Bolaños, announced on Sunday.

Bolaños also said the government remained committed to negotiations with the separatists over the future of the restive region of northeastern Catalonia.

“We want to regain confidence by using dialogue and transparency,” said the minister in Barcelona, ​​after a meeting with the regional head of the Catalan presidency, Laura Vilagrà.

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“The government has a good conscience and we have nothing to hide,” Bolaños added.

Pere Aragonès, a left-wing pro-independence politician who heads Catalonia’s government, said last week he was suspending relations with Spain’s national authorities after cybersecurity experts in Canada revealed “massive political espionage”.

Aragonès accused Spain’s intelligence agency, known as CNI in Spanish, of the alleged hack.

Citizen Lab, an expert group linked to the University of Toronto, said traces of Pegasus and other spyware from two Israeli companies, NSO Group and Candiru, have been identified in the devices of 65 people, including elected officials, activists, lawyers, European legislators and others. .

Most of the infiltrations took place between 2017, when a banned referendum on Catalan independence caused a deep political crisis in Spain, and ended in mid-2020, when Citizen Lab revealed the first cases. alleged espionage.

The Spanish government has neither denied nor confirmed whether it uses Pegasus or other hard-to-detect spyware, saying all surveillance is conducted under the supervision of judges.

A series of talks between the central government in Madrid and Catalan regional authorities resolved some of the separatists’ long-term grievances, but did not resolve fundamental issues of Catalonia’s status within Spain.

Polls and recent elections show that the share of Catalans supporting independence has grown since the financial crisis of the past decade, but has remained split since 2017, with majorities recently fluctuating between those for and against the break with independence. ‘Spain.

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