The special commission of inquiry of the European Parliament created to clarify the pegasus case voted this Tuesday in favor of sending a mission to Spain at the end of March to gather more data on the espionage that used the computer program of the same name that has been used against both the highest institutions —among those spied on is the president of the Government, Pedro Sanchez— as well as against dozens of Catalan independentistas and their closest personnel.
The mission, which has yet to receive final authorization from the Chamber’s leadership, was decided on the same day that the rapporteur of the Pegasus scandal, the Dutch Sophie in t’Veld, presented her recommendations to the countries affected by the scandal. espionage. In the case of Spain, she asks, above all, for “full clarity” on the cases, as well as for judicial investigations to be carried out “without delay.”
In the report, which may still be modified by amendments in the coming weeks, it is concluded that the Spanish regulatory framework “seems to be in line with the requirements established in the Treaties and in the judgments of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) and the Court European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)”. However, it adds, “the application in fact raises questions, as some members of Parliament have been targeted and certain lawyers, politicians, activists and journalists have been targeted without criminal charges or obvious imminent threats to national security.” ”, he adds about the wiretapping of 65 Catalan independentists uncovered by the Canadian Citizen Lab center.
For this reason, the recommendations ask Spain to “guarantee real and meaningful remedies for all victims”, as well as that “judicial investigations conclude without delay”. Finally, it also urges the country to “urgently resolve the current crisis of the judiciary.”
After the presentation of the recommendations to the affected countries, the special commission has approved, in the afternoon session, the mission to Spain, which will take place between March 20 and 21 in Madrid, as announced by the European People’s Party (PPE). This is a visit similar to the one already carried out by members of the special commission of the European Parliament to Poland, Greece and Cyprus, as well as to Israel, a non-EU country, but in which some of the main companies that develop this kind of software spyware, including the one who created the Pegasus program, NSO Group. A trip to Hungary is also planned in February. There is still one last step left for the trip to Madrid to be definitively approved: it must receive the approval of the Conference of Presidents (made up of the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and the leaders of the political groups) and the Table of the institution, the regulatory management body made up of the presidency, the 14 vice-presidents and five quaestors. Normally, it is nothing more than a mere formality, but the dates chosen are outside the weeks reserved for this type of travel, so it has to be analyzed, according to parliamentary sources.
In reporting on the mission, the popular MEP Juan Ignacio Zoido has criticized the “very deficient” role of the Sanchez government in managing the espionage case. The coordinator of the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the Pegasus special commission has regretted the dismissal of the director of the National Intelligence Center (CNI) Paz Esteban, whom, he said in a statement, “they turned into a scapegoat for please their government partners, the Catalan secessionists”. In addition, Zoido has reproached the Spanish Executive that he “has not collaborated with the European Parliament or with its commission of inquiry”, since he has “completely ignored” the questionnaire that it sent him “months ago” on the Pegasus case.
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The lack of cooperation to clarify the espionage with the Pegasus software does not seem, however, to be an exclusively Spanish problem. When presenting hours before the list of recommendations for the countries involved in one way or another in the Pegasus scandal -in addition to Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary and Poland-, the author of the report, the Dutch company In’t Veld (Renew Europe Group , which includes Ciudadanos), has harshly criticized both the EU Member States and the European Commission and the Council for their lack of support in the investigation into what he has called a “digital attack on democracy”.
“We are being completely blocked by countries, the Commission and the Council, something that is very serious because I think that the abuse of spyware and the characteristics of the trade of this program amount to very serious attacks on democracy,” said In t ‘Veld in presenting his recommendations, “We were very concerned about the Brazilians occupying their Parliament or about [el ataque al Capitolio en Washington] on January 6, 2021, but this is a digital attack on democracy from within. It is very, very serious and the attitude of the Commission, the Council and the States is unacceptable and inexcusable ”, she criticized.