Former Prime Minister Rajoy appears to be closely involved in an illegal smear campaign against Catalans

Former Prime Minister Rajoy appears to be closely involved in an illegal smear campaign against Catalans

Under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish government has waged an illegal smear campaign against prominent Catalans for years. The Prime Minister was kept personally informed of the progress, as can now be seen through secret documents and audio recordings in newspapers Newspaper in Vanguard I've got their hands on it. The case has been investigated for years, but the emergence of evidence implicating the former prime minister himself could cause major damage to his conservative Popular Party – even though Rajoy himself has now left politics.

Mass demonstrations demanding independence for the Spanish region of Catalonia were a headache for the newly appointed Prime Minister in 2012. The then Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, decided that the fight against Catalan leaders would be a priority, and so began a secret investigation into Catalan politicians, businessmen and rivals of the Popular Party.

wrong information

Dozens of intelligence reports for this investigation were prepared under the supervision of former police commissioner and private investigator José Manuel Velario – famous for his audio recordings in which King Juan Carlos admitted to receiving bribes. The signatures of the judges, who are supposed to approve such investigations, were missing.

The reports included false information from agents who infiltrated the independence movements. Ministries, including the Ministry of Finance, provided investigations with sensitive information. For example, leaders of the independence movement were wrongly accused of tax fraud, embezzlement of funds, and receiving bribes. A number of them are said to have accounts in tax havens, such as former regional president Artur Mas and former Barcelona mayor Xavier Trias.

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Interior Minister Díaz received fabricated warrants from various police units that he could use to target Catalan leaders. Díaz's bodyguard delivered the information in empty, sealed envelopes to La Moncloa Palace, the residence of the Spanish Prime Minister, who received the envelopes in person.

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In 2012, the private investigator met with Defense Minister María Dolores de Cospedal (PP). After each meeting, Villarejo wrote down the names of prominent Catalans to be “investigated” and the amount to be paid for this information.

For example, he investigated Jordi Pujol, the first Catalan regional president since the fall of dictator Franco. Villarejo met his ex-girlfriend, who confirmed to a judge that same year that the family had hidden millions in Andorra, among other places. This case caused a huge impact on the image of the Pujol family. According to his memoirs, Villarejo received 100,000 euros from Cospedal a few weeks after meeting Pujol's ex-lover.

Villarejo also describes how during this meeting with Cospedal he discussed a new target: FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell. It was said that he was too much on the side of Catalan nationalism and therefore had to be removed. Thus, in the two newspaper publications, more names were mentioned that had to be omitted for the same reason.

The most damaging detail in the diary is the entry indicating that all orders came from Prime Minister Rajoy. In fact, you can hear in the audio recordings that Ministers Díaz and Cospedal admit that Prime Minister Rajoy was aware of all the practices.

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“Smoke screen”

Spying on Catalans did not end with Mariano Rajoy's government. Between 2017 and 2020, dozens of parliamentarians, politicians, activists and lawyers were allegedly monitored via the controversial Pegasus software from the Israeli company NSO. Spy software can be used to track another person's cell phones remotely and view files such as photos and emails. Pegasus can also eavesdrop on conversations and extract passwords.

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Catalan regional president Pere Aragonés and current Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez were victims. The head of the Spanish National Intelligence Service was dismissed immediately after the matter was discovered. The investigation into the Pegasus case is still ongoing. A spokesman for the Catalan government demands that Rajoy be held accountable in Congress. She wrote that the courts have so far rejected the evidence in the case Country. “Everyone seems to be afraid,” lawyer Jordi Pena told the newspaper.

A spokesman for the Popular Party described the case in El Diario newspaper on Thursday as a “smokescreen” said to be behind current Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialist Workers' Party.

There has been an ongoing lawsuit against private investigator Villarejo since 2021. Four years ago, he was arrested on suspicion of corruption, bribery and leaking classified information. The judge is considering these charges, which could carry a penalty of up to 110 years in prison.



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