Catalan PP leader files charges against detectives who spied on her

Sánchez-Camacho wants to know who planted a bug at her lunch table

Alicia Sánchez-Camacho next to Socialist leader Pere Navarro in the Catalan parliament. / Carles Ribas (EL PAÍS)

The leader of the Popular Party (PP) in Catalonia has pressed charges with the police and filed a complaint at a local court against a private detective agency that allegedly recorded a lunch meeting she held with the former girlfriend of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, the son of former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol and who is under investigation for money laundering and misappropriation of public funds.

Alicia Sánchez Camacho said she was outraged when she found out through two newspapers — El Periódico de Catalunya and El Mundo — that the Método 3 agency, allegedly hired by a top official from the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), spied on her.

Sánchez Camacho was lunching with Victoria Álvarez, Pujol Ferrusola’s former girlfriend, at a restaurant, where they discussed his alleged money-laundering operations. The lunch date occurred weeks before Álvarez came forward and told investigators that she accompanied her then-boyfriend on a trip to Andorra to deliver 500-euro notes he had hidden in the trunk of his car and later deposited in a bank account.

According to Sánchez-Camacho’s complaint, detectives placed a microphone in the flower centerpiece on the table where the two women were sitting at La Camarga, a Barcelona restaurant frequented by many politicians.

Detectives placed a microphone in the flower centerpiece on the table

El Mundo reported that Método 3 was hired by José Zaragoza, a PSC deputy in the Catalan regional parliament who was then the party secretary. Zaragoza has denied the allegations and is consulting as to whether he should file a lawsuit against the newspaper. The PSC meanwhile has asked El Mundo for a clarification.

Sánchez-Camacho had agreed to meet Álvarez after she was asked to by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s chief of staff, Jorge Moragas, who knew the ex-girlfriend from the time they were both members of the PP’s youth organization Nuevas Generaciones, both newspapers said.

Moragas and the PP have denied acting as intermediaries.

In her complaint before the court, Sánchez-Camacho asked the judge to subpoena Método 3’s records to see who had hired the detectives to determine whether or not it was someone in the PSC.

Earlier this week, the PP leader said she didn’t remember whether she told Álvarez to report her former boyfriend to the authorities. But a tape recording she listened to later showed that she did.

“I offered to accompany her to go and see the anticorruption prosecutor but she didn’t want to go because she was very scared,” Sánchez-Camacho said.

Álvarez eventually met with the prosecutors last month.

The PP leader said that she asked the police to investigate if other party officials have been spied on, and to conduct a search of the political grouping’s headquarters for bugging devices.

The alleged spying incident and corruption in the regional parties was the focus of the debate in Wednesday’s Catalan parliamentary session.

Regional premier Artur Mas, of the ruling Catalan nationalist CiU bloc, challenged Sánchez-Camacho to take her case to the authorities.

“Every time I have been faced with things such as a dirty war, I have filed criminal complaints against very powerful people,” he said, referring to allegations that surfaced during his campaign that he had secret bank accounts in Switzerland.

Mas has repeatedly suggested that someone from the PP was behind the leak of a mysterious, unsigned police report that mentions the bank accounts. The premier has not been charged with any crimes.

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