The CNI turns 20 tomorrow amid the espionage controversy and with dismissal requests


The National Intelligence Center (CNI) celebrates its 20th anniversary this Friday, but the controversy generated by listening to politicians through the ‘Pegasus’ program has ruined the celebration and has forced the cancellation of all the acts it had planned for, in an unprecedented way, opening a crack in its doors to the citizenry.

The organization, always discreet and hidden from society, was preparing a commemoration of its 20th anniversary with the idea of ​​trying to make its work known to the public and to value the work carried out by its 3,000 professionals.

However, the espionage scandal has forced to urgently cancel the plans and cancel all celebrations for this May 6. The director herself, Paz Esteban, who has been in the intelligence services for 40 years, had announced the celebration six months ago, when she said that the objective was “to value” the CNI’s “vocation for service” “and its contribution to national security and the defense of the interests of Spain”.


Faced with this initial forecast, Esteban had to go to Congress this Thursday to appear before the Reserved Expenses Commission to account for the actions of the CNI in listening to politicians, both in the case of espionage on independentistas uncovered by the organization ‘ Citizen Lab’ and in the infection with the ‘Pegasus’ program of the phones of the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the Defense Minister.

In fact, the director of the CNI is one of those appointed to take responsibility for this scandal. Independence parties such as ERC or Junts have directly requested her resignation, and even United We Can, a minority partner of the Government, has also suggested her dismissal.


Faced with this, Paz Esteban has found the support of Margarita Robles, who appointed her in February 2020 and this Wednesday said in Congress that she is “having to put up with stoically” accusations that, as she assured, “do not correspond to reality” .

He has also had this Thursday after his parliamentary appearance with the support of PSOE, PP, Vox and Ciudadanos, who have praised his “professionalism” and the explanations given behind closed doors to the parliamentary groups.

At his inauguration more than two years ago, Esteban announced a transformation plan that would allow the CNI “to be more and better.” “More modern, flexible and integrated; better adapted to society, with new work methods and procedures,” he explained.

The basis of this project was a digital transformation that had already begun a year earlier and was planned to be “transversal” in nature and would affect the entire institution. “It is going to be a qualitative leap, achieving this strategic objective will increase efficiency in an increasingly complex security context,” he explained.


In addition, within the events planned for the 20th anniversary, the center published a video last March in which it claimed its constant and “discreet” work to “protect the future” of the Spanish and their “way of life”.

“Because normality is not guaranteed,” warns the ‘spot’, which summarizes in two minutes an ordinary day of one of the intelligence center agents, from the sound of the alarm clock at 6:30 in the morning and her family tasks to the meeting with an informer or working at night in the CNI offices.

The CNI was created by the Government of José María Aznar on May 6, 2002. It was the successor to the old Superior Defense Information Center (CESID), which came from the Transition (it was founded by General Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado) and which in the 1990s he was involved in another indiscriminate wiretapping scandal that even affected the Royal House.

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