Assemblea denounces Spain’s Catalangate illegal espionage case before the OSCE

The Catalan National Assembly has taken part in a new edition of the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting in Vienna, which on this occasion focused on the need to respect human rights in the face of crisis, and to denounce the continued repression that the Spanish authorities exercise on Catalonia’s pro-independence movement.

The Catalan National Assembly took part on the 16th and 17th of May in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on The Functioning of Democratic Institutions in Times of Crisis”, in Vienna, Austria. This meeting aimed to examine how the functioning of democratic institutions contributes to the protection and promotion of human dimension commitments in times of crisis.

Assemblea’s board members Carles Fité and Jordi Vilanova intervened in two sessions of the conference in representation of the organization, dealing with topics such as the role of institutions as guardians of democracy in times of crisis, and the importance of freedom of association and media freedom. In that sense, they took the opportunity to denounce the abuses by Spanish authorities against Catalan democratic institutions and elected representatives, and human rights violations against peaceful Catalan activists, focusing especially on the recent Catalangate illegal espionage affair.

Mr. Vilanova took part in the second session, “Importance of freedom of association in the OSCE region”, in which he denounced Spain’s Catalangate illegal espionage case, which represents a grievous attack against freedom of association: “with attacks, infections, and hacking against at least 65 Catalan elected representatives, civil society leaders, activists, lawyers, journalists, high-tech specialists, and their relatives; only because of their pro-independence activism. Among them, five members of the Catalan National Assembly, including its current president Elisenda Paluzie and its former president Jordi Sànchez”. An organization that, as Ms Vilanova reminded, “has been harassed by Spanish authorities since, 2017, and two of its former presidents have been unjustly arrested and imprisoned for over 3 and a half years, with egregious prison sentences, as denounced by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Mr. Vilanova then raised his cellphone and reminded the room of the consequences of this espionage: “in fact, the Spanish secret services might be listening to everything that is being said here today, since my cell phone could be infected with Pegasus, just for representing the Catalan National Assembly. This directly threatens my right to freedom of association, and to my free speech, and that of millions of Europeans.”

In this regard, the representative of Spain to the OSCE replied that “all the issues raised will be addressed”, which goes in contradiction with measures such as blocking by most Spanish major parties (including the Socialist Party, currently in government) of the creation of an inquiry committee on the matter in the Spanish parliament.

Finally, Mr. Carles Fité took part in the last session: “Times of crisis: why we need more media freedom, not less”, in which he recalled the persecution against journalists in Spain: “Reporters Without Borders have downgraded the rating for quality of free press in Spain, while the European Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom has denounced the increasing threat to the right to information and the growing hate speech in media”

Both of Assemblea’s representatives called on the OSCE authorities to take measures to ensure that the Spanish authorities cease and desist their political persecution of Catalan political representatives and activists, and also to undertake a country visit to Spain to investigate the facts on the ground.

Assemblea regularly takes part in the meetings of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on human rights, where its representatives have carried out oral statements, as well as submitting written statements to denounce violations of rights by Spanish institutions against the people of Catalonia (September 2019, November 2019, June 2020, April 2021, July 2021, October 2021).