Exiled Catalan leader claims to ‘have proof’ Spain used espionage to repress independence drive

THE exiled former Catalan president of Carles Puigdemont has insisted he has evidence that Spain used political espionage against him and others around him.

The MEP who fled Spain to avoid arrest in the wake of a unilateral declaration of independence following an illegal referendum in October 2017 claims espionage was used against him as part of a “repression strategy”.

Puigdemont made the claims in Paris at a meeting with French politicians on Friday and said he was preparing to formally “denounce the Spanish government” for the underhand tactics.

He said the strategy was “very sophisticated”, and included ‘lawfare’ – a reference to legal actions against the pro-independence lobby.

Puigdemont also insisted Spain had spread fake news about Russia’s involvement in the independence campaign and used “political espionage to pursue and attack the reputation of dissident politicians”.

He said there was “high-level political espionage of which we have evidence, and which will be duly denounced”

“It is unacceptable,” he insisted, adding that he would raise the matter with Brussels. “No EU state can afford such an attitude. This is a matter of great concern because this seriously affects the quality of European democracy and affects us all.”

He revealed that tracking devices had been found on the vehicles that he and colleagues had used after they fled Spain and took refuge in Belgium.

His revelation came just days after Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez travelled to the region to kick start talks aimed at improving ties damaged by the northeastern region’s failed 2017 separatist bid.

But he stressed his position regarding Catalonia’s request for an authorized independence referendum remained unchanged.

“The Spanish government will always respect democratic legality, the constitutional order”, he said after meeting current regional president Pere Aragones, of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party.

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