All questions and no answers, as Spanish spy chief stays mute on Pegasus hacking scandal

This picture taken on April 19, 2022 at the EU Parliament in Brussels shows a document entitled, "Catalangate democracy under surveillance".
This picture taken on April 19, 2022 at the EU Parliament in Brussels shows a document entitled, "Catalangate democracy under surveillance". Copyright KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP
By Efi Koutsokosta
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The head of the National Intelligence Services of Spain, Esperanza Casteleiro, spoke to MEPs on Tuesday from Madrid.


Spain's spy chief failed to answer any of the questions posed to her by MEPs related to the Spanish spyware scandal, as the expectations for revelations were dampened.

The presence of Esperanza Casteleiro at a hearing in the European Parliament on Tuesday was initially seen as the big news of the day.

But it was followed by huge disappointment after she limited herself to explaining in detail the legal framework in which the Spanish secret services operates, failing to answer any of the 28 questions raised by lawmakers.

Everything in this context is basically secret, according to intelligence services chief Casteleiro, who spoke via videolink from Madrid.

Saskia Bricmont, a Belgian MEP from the Greens, told Euronews that she was particularly worried for her colleagues that have been under surveillance.

"Amongst them are, for instance, colleagues from the European Parliament, which immunity protects them in the context of their mandate. And so spying on MEPs is illegal. We didn't get really answers on these elements," she told Euronews.

"So, this morning during the hearing, what we call for is the justice to do its work in full independency on the one hand. On the other hand, we also call on the governments to share more information with the enquiry committee because they're all using the national security argument."

In Spain there are two separate cases.

One is the surveillance of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and two Spanish ministers by a third country - which some attribute to Morocco - and on the other hand, there is the case of at least 65 Catalan pro-independence leaders, among them some MEPs, that were also infected by the Pegasus spyware.

But Spanish MEP Jordi Cañas has defended the head of Spanish Secret Services for maintaining her silence.

"It is not that she does not want to do it, it is that she cannot do it. This is a law and in a state of law, rules have to be respected," Cañas told Euronews.

The European Parliament's PEGA Committee investigating the possible crimes has recently visited most of the countries where the use of spyware has been revealed to have been used, as well as Israel, the country of origin of the firm that manufactures it, the NSO Group.

MEPs have not, however, been able to organise a mission to Spain to investigate, due to the Parliament's two main political groups, the European People's Party and the Socialists & Democrats, blocking any trip.

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