POLITICAL ESPIONAGE

Police search offices of Método 3 as political spying inquiry widens

Arrested private detectives claim regional PP leader was taped on "boss's orders"

Police officers on Tuesday searched the Barcelona and Madrid offices of Método 3, the now-defunct private detective firm at the center of a political spying scandal in Catalonia. Investigators, including two anticorruption prosecutors, were seen bringing out boxes of confiscated documents from the buildings.

The agency's owner, Francisco Marco, and three other detectives at the agency were arrested on Monday. The entire case has rocked Spain's political foundations after recordings surfaced of a 2010 lunch conversation between the head of the Popular Party in Catalonia, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, and the former girlfriend of one of the sons of the region's ex-premier.

The ex-girlfriend, Victoria Álvarez, informed Sánchez-Camacho about Jordi Pujol Ferrusola's alleged money laundering activities in Andorra. Pujol Ferrusola is a son of former regional premier Jordi Pujol Soley, who served from 1980 to 2003.

Two of the suspects, Julián Peribañez and Alex Borrequero, who are still in custody, told investigators that they recorded the conversation "on the boss's orders" at the La Camarga restaurant in Barcelona. The ruling Catalan nationalist CiU bloc has organized a special squad of investigators and court personnel to help those politicians or other citizens who feel that they may have been spied on.

"We cannot get to the bottom of this case in Catalonia without the cooperation of the Mossos d'Esquadra," said Joana Ortega, the deputy regional premier, who said she will present a case to the Catalan police force.

Currently, the Interior Ministry, with the help of the national police force, is investigating the case.

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