The ousted Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, has admitted that his attempt to secure regional independence is over.
Sent using the Signal messaging app and written in Catalan, the texts, sent to his former health minister Toni Comín, were caught by a TV camera behind Comín and aired by Telecinco’s 'Ana Rosa' programme.
They mention 'the last days of republican Catalonia ' and suggest the deposed leader is preparing to abandon his attempt to return to office:
"We are living again the last days of the Republic of Catalonia. Moncloa's plan has triumphed, I only hope that it's true and thanks to this, everyone can leave prison. If not this would be a historical embarrassment"
"I guess you’ve realised that this is over," reads one. "Our people have sacrificed us. Or at least me."
It goes on to refer to the pro-independence Catalan MP Joan Tardà, who suggested at the weekend that Puigdemont could step aside to allow another candidate to become president:
“You will be ministers (I hope and wish) but I’ve already been sacrificed just like Tardà said.”
Another says “The [Spanish government’s] plan has won,” before expressing the hope that the victory will lead to the release of the four Catalan leaders in prison.
The separatist leader, who faces charges of rebellion and sedition, will be arrested if he sets foot in Spain.
He now says he will dedicate his time to clearing his name:
"I don't know how long I'm going to live (I hope I have a long time) but I'll dedicate my life to put these last two years in order and to protect my reputation. They've done a lot of damage with slander, rumours, lies that I've endured for a common goal. This is now over and I have to dedicate my life to defend myself."
The texts were sent around the same time that Puigdemont tweeted a call for unity and said he intended to return to the presidency after last December’s election, in which pro-independence parties held on to their majority in the regional parliament.
He confirmed on Wednesday morning that he had sent the messages, but insisted he was still the best candidate to represent the Catalan people.
Whilst questioning whether his privacy had been breached, he vowed to carry on:
“I am a journalist and I have always understood that there are limits, such as privacy, which should never be violated,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am human and I, too, have moments of doubt. I am also the president and I will not fold or back away out of respect for the gratitude I feel towards – and the commitment I have – to the citizens and the nation. Onwards!”