Home » Spain to reform secret services after phone-hacking scandal: PM | Politics News

Spain to reform secret services after phone-hacking scandal: PM | Politics News

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Pedro Sanchez also promises a new law governing “confidential information” after hacking the phones of top politicians.

According to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Spain will “strengthen judicial control” over secret services following a scandal over mobile phone hacking by top politicians.

The scandal occurred in April when it became clear that the phone of a Catalan separatist leader was being used by Spanish intelligence.

It expanded when the government confirmed Sanchez’s phone and the Defense Minister and Interior Minister were also targeted by “external attacks.”

The incident caused a crisis between the Sanchez minority government and the Catalan independence ERC.

The vulnerable coalition of Sanchez relies on the ERC to pass a bill in parliament and remain in power until the next general election scheduled for the end of 2023.

“This is not only a matter of strengthening the guarantee of this control, but also of maximizing respect for people’s personal and political rights,” Sanchez said Thursday when he announced reforms to Congress.

Sanchez also said the government would adopt a new law governing “confidential information.” It replaces the existing law adopted in 1968 under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

“We must urgently adopt regulations on democratic and constitutional principles,” he said.

Spy Agency Chief Dismissed

Last month, the government dismissed Pas Esteban, the head of Spanish CNI intelligence, in a hacking scandal. She was the first woman to lead an agency.

Her dismissal occurred after 18 Catalan separatists, including Pele Aragones, head of Catalan local government, were spyed by the CNI but told the Parliamentary Commission that they had always been approved by the court.

Esteban was the first woman to lead a Spanish espionage agency [File: Juan Carlos Hidalgo/EPA]

Citizen Lab, a Canadian cybersecurity watchdog, said in April that more than 60 phones related to the Catalan separatist movement were eavesdropped using Pegasus spyware after a failed independence movement in 2017.

The scandal deepened after the government announced on May 2 that the telephones of Sanchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were hacked in May and June 2021 by the same spyware made by the Israeli NSO Group.

Sanchez was the first head of government to be identified as being targeted by the controversial Pegasus spyware.

The government later said that the phone call of Interior Minister Fernando Grande Malaska was one of those hacked last year.

The revelation raised questions about who should be responsible and whether Spain has the proper security protocol.

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