A judge investigates the former director of the CNI for spying on Aragonès with Pegasus

The head of the Court of Instruction number 29 of Barcelona has accepted for processing the complaint of the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, for the alleged espionage of which he was a victim with the Pegasus program and has agreed to summon the former director of the National Intelligence Center (CNI) Paz Esteban as under investigation.

The magistrate maintains in the order that the facts reported by Aragonès in his complaint, for crimes of unauthorized interference in computer equipment, illegal interception of communications, computer espionage and violation of fundamental rights, present characteristics that “make one presume the possible existence of criminal infractions.”

Aragonese filed a complaint against the former director of the CNI Paz Esteban and against NSO, the Israeli company that owns the Pegasus cyberespionage system, in June 2022, although the head of Court number 29 of Barcelona, ​​on which the case fell, recused himself from the National Court, at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, when considering this competent court because the Catalan president is a high institution of the State.

However, this decision was revoked last June by the Barcelona Court, so finally the head of Court 29 has taken on the case, has agreed to admit the complaint to processing and has cited Paz Esteban as under investigation -in what is his first accusation for espionage with Pegasus- on December 13, the same day on which Aragonès will also have to appear, in his case as an injured party.

Government He dismissed Paz Esteban as head of the CNI in May 2022 as a result of the controversy over espionage with Pegasus, which in addition to Aragonès and more than fifty pro-independence leaders also reached the President of the Government himself, Pedro Sánchez, and the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles.

The Barcelona judge highlights in his order that the Citizen Lab collective, linked to the University of Toronto and international expert in the Pegasus program, published in April 2021 a report on people from the Catalan independence movement and ERC whose mobile phones They could have been infected for “political espionage”among them that of Aragonès.

In this sense, he emphasizes that the Citizen Lab report detailed that Aragonès’ cell phone was infected through SMS sent on January 4, 5 and 13, 2020, when he was vice president of the Generalitat, and that the expert report that has been presented in court “endorses” this fact.

For this reason, in addition to citing Paz Esteban as being investigated, the judge has agreed a battery of errandsamong them issuing a summons to the Supreme Court magistrate responsible for judicial control of the CNI to certify whether he has authorized the use of remote control software, monitoring, beaconing or any form of intervention in Aragonès’ communications.

If so, the Barcelona judge requests that the Supreme Court send it the judicial resolutions for which this “interference” has been authorized.

Furthermore, and prior to the request for the “pertinent declassification” of secret documentation, the judge request information from the CNI regarding the purchase and possible use of Pegasus and about the “specific people” who acted on behalf of this organization in the processes of commissioning, purchasing and receiving the program and whether it was used to spy on Aragonès.

It also asks the CNI and the Government’s Delegate Commission for Intelligence Affairs to specify whether the CNI or any other Spanish government agency has acquired or used Pegasus.

The judge has also addressed the Court of Accounts and the General State Intervention to send him a certification on whether the CNI acquired products or licenses or paid services of any kind to NSO Group from 2014 to the present and to provide all the data they have available about these products.

In parallel, the judge has issued a European Investigation Order so that NSO’s parent company, OSY Technologies, based in Luxembourg, Clarify whether Pegasus has been marketed with government agencies of the Spanish State and, if so, detail with which ones and with what people.

It also requires these companies to provide documents related to the “order, purchase, installation, payment, training and support” to the client or technician of the Pegasus program and that identify the clients of this spy software in Spain.

Likewise, it requests that deliver information and data about devices and systems computer systems on which the Spanish organizations “directed and used the Pegasus program”.

The judicial case for the Aragonès complaint thus joins those already being investigated in other courts in Barcelona for this alleged case of political espionage, among them that of Court number 20, which is investigating the alleged use of Pegasus to infect the cell phones of ERC deputies Josep Maria Jové and Diana Riba.

In this case, the judge sent a request to the Council of Ministers to declassify the secret official documents related to the purchase or use of Pegasus, before calling the current director of the CNI, Esperanza Castelerio, who replaced Paz Esteban, as a witness.

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