POLITICAL ESPIONAGE

Judge accepts PP leader’s suit against spying firm and demands client list be handed over

Police chiefs meet in Madrid to prevent espionage files from reaching market

A Barcelona court on Monday admitted a lawsuit filed by the leader of the Popular Party in Catalonia (PPC), Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, against a private detection agency that allegedly spied on the politician and recorded her conversation. The incident took place at a Barcelona restaurant at which Sánchez-Camacho was lunching with Victoria Álvarez, the former girlfriend of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, a son of ex-regional leader Jordi Pujol. During the lunch, Álvarez discussed the money-laundering operations of Pujol Ferrusola. Weeks later, she told investigators how she had accompanied her boyfriend on a trip to Andorra, where Pujol Ferrusola deposited money in 500-euro notes he had hidden in his car in a bank account.

The investigating judge also accepted two further petitions from Sánchez-Camacho’s lawyers: that Método 3, the detection agency, hand over its client list; and an injunction against the broadcasting of the lunch date recording. The PPC believes the Catalan Socialists may have ordered the spying, in which a bug was apparently hidden in a vase of flowers on the table.

In a press conference Monday, Sánchez-Camacho complained that the regional premier, Artur Mas of the CiU, has not condemned the case or offered her judicial guarantees. “Neither him nor anybody else in the government has called me,” Sánchez-Camacho said. “What would have happened if it had been someone else being spied upon?”

It is ridiculous to say that this whole affair is a plan to attack the right-to-decide process”

Sánchez-Camacho spoke of the “serious matter of one deputy spying on another,” in reference to revelations that Germà Gordo, regional justice chief in Mas’s administration, and Xavier Martorell, the director general of prisons, had ordered surveillance on former interior chief Felipe Puig, who now heads up the regional employment ministry.

“These are two pro-independence deputies and it is ridiculous to say that this whole affair is a plan to attack the right-to-decide process,” Sánchez-Camacho said, adding that she feared her case was just “the tip of the iceberg.” Nationalist leaders had expressed concerns that the espionage story was being manipulated in order to push Catalan sovereignty onto the backburner.

Meanwhile, a meeting of police chiefs on Monday attempted to seek a way to prevent Método 3’s files from being bought and published. The Interior Ministry has made recovering the potentially explosive documents its top priority and mooted sanctions for anybody revealing their content. The police chiefs believe that media, security companies and political parties are all in the market for the files, for differing reasons.

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