Sánchez dismisses the director of the CNI for spying on her phone and to calm ERC

  • The Government wraps the decision, which the independence movement has been demanding for months, in the phone attacks of the President and the Minister of Defense

The Council of Ministers agreed on Tuesday to dismiss the director of the CNI, Peace Stephen, after the National Cryptologic Center (CCN) certified that there are more government mobiles infected by the Pegasus software, in addition to those of Pedro Sánchez and Margarita Robles, sources from the Executive assure this newspaper. With the argument of security failures, the Executive will wrap up a decision that has been demanding independence for weeks. Since a report from the organization Citizen Labpublished by ‘The New Yorker‘, found that more than 60 leaders and activists charges had been monitored with this Israeli computer program.

The government showed very hesitant at first about the repercussions that this revelation could have on governance —ERC is a fundamental parliamentary partner—, but as the days went by, and the Republicans voted against the anti-crisis decree, he began to be aware of the risk it posed for the legislature. Although Moncloa maintains that Sánchez can arrive at the end of 2023 despite not having stable support from the ERC, the sacrifice of Paz Esteban it was one of his conditions to recover the dialogue.

However, the director of the CNI was on the wing not because of the espionage on the independentistas, but because of what the chief executive and the defense minister have suffered. According to the Government, as a result of learning of the infection with Pegasus in the phones of separatist charges, it was decided to analyze these two terminals. On Monday, May 2, the Executive made public that the National Cryptologic Center confirmed that they had been attacked. Sanchez’s, in May 2021, at the worst moment of the diplomatic crisis with Morocco. That of Robles, a month later, in June.

In the following days, the Government began to distance itself from Paz Esteban, whom Moncloa blames for poor surveillance and a lack of security on the president’s telephone, from which the espionage authors managed to steal 2.6 gigabytes and 130 megabytes of information in two different attacks. The continuity of the head of intelligence was no longer guaranteed and it was subject to knowing what had gone wrong and knowing the result of the verification of the rest of the ministers. But the one who did defend her tooth and nail has been her hierarchical superior, Minister Robles.

The declassification of documents

The situation of the director of the CNI was already very delicate. Even so, Moncloa made him appear last Thursday in the official secrets commission, whose composition was changed ‘ex profeso’ by the president of Congress, Meritxell Batet, to allow the independence spokesmen to enter. In her appearance, Paz Esteban confirmed that the CNI monitored 18 people in relation to the riots that took place in Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia in October 2019, after learning of the ‘procés’ sentence. But what it was done with judicial authorization, after submitting a reasoned petition to the competent Supreme Court judge. Among the 18 was the ‘president’ of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, who at that time was vice president and ‘conseller’ of Economy.

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This revelation further strained the relationship with ERC. On Friday, at an institutional meeting in Barcelona between Sánchez and Aragonès, both agreed to hold a meeting that the Generalitat wanted to hold this week and that the Government also wants to be held soon. But the Government does not renounce at any time the claim that responsibilities be purged and the request that the Council of Ministers declassify the CNI documentation about the espionage to the independentistas. Declassification that Moncloa no longer rules out.

Knowledgeable sources point out to this newspaper that this week for Sánchez was absolutely key because he had to decide what answer to give to Aragonès. In short, if the meeting were organized, the result of that meeting would have been previously agreed upon. But the president has chosen to make it even easier and sacrifice the director of the CNI as a first measurealthough sheathed in the security flaws of his phone and not in the claim of the independentistas.

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