Spanish intelligence chief expelled after spying scandal

The government sacked Spain’s Central Intelligence Agency chief Paz Esteban on Tuesday after a spying scandal. Esteban admitted last week that the service had been bugging the phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and some Catalan separatists using Pegasus spyware, among others.

The case erupted in mid-April, when a report was published that identified more than 60 people from the Catalan separatist movement as victims of espionage. Esteban admitted that her services spied on Catalan activists, but this was always done with the permission of the judiciary. But government sources say in Spanish media that she has not been informed.

Last week, it emerged that not only Catalan separatists’ phones had been tapped, but Prime Minister Sanchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles also had been hacked. This happened with the Pegasus program, developed by the Israeli company NSO Group. According to the government, data from Sanchez and Robles was also stolen. There is speculation that Morocco is behind this.

The scandal sparked a crisis between Sanchez’s minority government and Catalan separatists. They are now threatening to withdraw their support for the government in Parliament.

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Denton Watson

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