The head of Spain’s CNI intelligence service, Paz Esteban, has been fired by the government after a spy scandal in which the phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and some Catalan separatists were tapped. Esteban had only been employed as head of CNI since early 2020.
The case broke out in mid-April after releasing a report that identified more than 60 people from the Catalan separatist movement as victims of espionage. Esteban also admitted last week that Catalan independence activists were being spied on by her services, but this was always done with the judiciary’s permission. Government sources say in the Spanish media that they were not informed.
Last week, it was also revealed that not only the phones of Catalan separatists were tapped, but Prime Minister Sanchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were also hacked. This happened with the much-discussed Pegasus software from the Israeli company NSO. According to the government, data from Sanchez and Robles were also stolen. There is speculation that Morocco is behind it.
The scandal sparked a crisis between Sanchez’s minority government and the Catalan separatists. They threatened to withdraw their support for the government in parliament.